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'Despicable' rogue roofer sentenced for fraudulent trading that cost victims thousands of pounds

25 February 2021

A rogue roofer who took thousands of pounds from unsuspecting householders for work he didn’t finish, or in many cases even start, has been handed a three-year custodial sentence at King's Lynn Crown Court today, Thursday 25 February.

Wesley Theobald, 30, previously of Swaffham, pleaded guilty to his crimes in October 2020 in a successful prosecution brought by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards. The investigation carried out by the trading standards team revealed a clear pattern of fraudulent trading dating back to 2017.

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, welcomed the sentence and said: “The defendant had no choice but to plead guilty due to the strong clear case put together by our dedicated trading standards team. This rogue builder’s fraudulent activities over a period of time fell far short of what is expected of a professional trader and cost his victims thousands of pounds through his incomplete and substandard work.”

Between December 2017 and September 2020 Mr Theobald was contracted by a total of nine consumers across East Anglia to carry out roofing repairs. Despite being paid over £27,000 in deposits for the work, in the cases where the works were started, they were never completed. As a result five of the consumers had to pay out a total of £20,000 in additional costs for remedial work. Mr Theobald has only provided refunds in two cases totalling just over £600.

As part of his summing up the Judge, Mr Recorder Sells QC, praised Norfolk County Council Trading Standards for bringing the prosecution and said: "These investigations are incredibly difficult and complex and I would like to commend the investigating officer in this case."

Mr Recorder Sells QC said that Mr Theobald's actions, "...had a serious effect on the victims, some elderly and retired, some younger" and added that his conduct can only be described as "despicable".

Confiscation proceedings, under proceeds of crime legislation, will follow and will include consideration of compensation for victims, as well as for the costs of the investigation.

To help protect themselves from unscrupulous traders people are advised to C.H.E.C.K. when looking for someone to carry out work:

C - Compare use Norfolk Trusted Trader and get three quotes
H - History - ask for the traders' references, recommendations and reviews and make sure you check them out
E - Establish the details - what is being done, by Who, by When and for How much? Remember that a quote is more binding than an estimate
C - Contract ensure everything is recorded including work and payment schedules and the paperwork contains the trader's correct name and address
K - Keep all of the paperwork - this may be needed should anything go wrong

Find good reputable local traders on the county council’s Trusted Trader pages: www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Further information

The prosecution was brought for fraudulent trading under Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006. Mr Theobald failed to carry out roofing works within a reasonable time, or at all, obtaining upfront deposit payments for the works and not using the deposits for that purpose. Failing to disclose to customers that he was an undischarged bankrupt.

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards plays a proactive role in keeping the people of Norfolk safe on a range of issues. We work with businesses and traders to make sure they stay within the law and know that advice and guidance is often the most effective way to achieve compliance. Our policy is to Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce, so prosecution is a last resort but that will be pursued where necessary if efforts to engage, explain and encourage are not heeded and a strong case can be brought before the courts.

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