Rogue tradesmen fined and jailed for defrauding elderly Eastleigh couple.

One victim 92 ,the other an 81 year old cancer sufferer. 177 victims across south of England.

Southampton_Courts_of_Justice

Mrs and Mr Prince of Eastleigh, who were 81 and 92 in 2012 when the offence was committed asked 1st Active Drainage Ltd to clear a blocked drain. The company then proceeded to carry out work that wasn’t needed and took payments of £1,794 and £1,984 from Mrs Prince’s account without her permission. 

After a four year investigation Southampton City Council’s Trading Standards and a five month trial at Southampton Crown Court, eight defendants from two plumbing companies were found guilty of money laundering and fraud offences. A further defendant had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Between them the nine defendants have paid, or have been ordered to pay, compensation totalling over £350,000.

Unfortunately, Mr and Mrs Prince are both now deceased, but compensation has been paid to their surviving relatives.

The court heard that 177 victims from all over the South of England had paid sums varying from £200 to over £18,000 for plumbing and drainage work. Prosecuting for the council, Nicholas Haggan QC told the court that customers had been misled about how the bill was to be calculated, about the need for the work to be done and what had been done.

Mrs Ferec-Dayson from Romsey said:

“I had to give my card details before the work started but when the work was finished I was told I would receive an invoice and could pay then. However when I received the invoice in the post I discovered that my card had already been debited by £3,656.28 without my knowledge or permission, I was horrified by the cost. I wrote and complained but never got a response.”

Mrs Prince made a witness statement to Trading Standards at the time of the event in which she stated:

“I would not have used this company if they had been more upfront with their pricing. I had only come out of a care home on the 26 April 2012 as I had undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. I am not very well, not mobile and I feel they have taken advantage of me at a low point.”

Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport at Southampton City Council said: “The people running and working for these companies targeted those people that they knew they could exploit, charging exorbitant sums of money to fund their own lifestyles. The full compensation received by the victims will hopefully help to bring closure to those who fell prey to these unscrupulous tradesmen.”

The following were found guilty of the offences identified and sentenced as shown:

Joseph Rodney Ashford – Guilty of converting criminal property to the value of £1,513,467 contrary to Section 327(1) (c ) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘money laundering’). The judge sentenced on the basis that the appropriate value for sentencing purposes was in the region of £20,000. 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years; 200 hours of unpaid work. £184,221.08 paid in compensation.
James Francis Dean – Guilty of converting criminal property to the value of £649,821 contrary to Section 327(1) (c ) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘money laundering’). 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years; 180 hours of unpaid work. £80,000 paid in compensation.
Mark Grundy – 9 months imprisonment suspended for two years concurrent on 4 counts of fraud; 150 hours of unpaid work
Ryan Sivyour – 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years concurrent on 5 counts of fraud; 220 hours of unpaid work
Andrew Ashton – 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years concurrent of 5 counts of fraud; 220 hours of unpaid work. On 15 March 2019 Ashton was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment following a conviction for driving whilst disqualified and breach of the suspended sentence order.
Oliver Quinn – 6 months imprisonment suspended for two years concurrent on 2 counts of fraud; 100 hours of unpaid work
Jordan Easterbrook – Community Order for 12 months with unpaid work of 40 hours on I count of fraud
Craig Watton – 6 months imprisonment suspended for two years concurrent on 2 counts of fraud; 100 hours of unpaid work
Justin Brian Perry pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiracy to defraud. He was sentenced at a separate hearing to 30 months’ immediate imprisonment and paid £66,000 in compensation.

Grundy, Sivyour, Ashton, Quinn, Easterbrook and Watton were ordered to pay compensation totalling over £30,000.

The court was told that Ashford was a director of 1st Active Drainage Ltd and then its replacement company Fast Response Maintenance Ltd from 2010 to October 2013. In this time the companies earned over £11m and Trading Standards identified over 850 customer complaints.

Councillor Jacqui Rayment Cabinet member for Environment and Transport at Southampton City Council said:

“The people running and working for these companies targeted those people that they knew they could exploit, charging exorbitant sums of money to fund their own lifestyles. The full compensation received by the victims will hopefully help to bring closure to those who fell prey to these unscrupulous tradesmen.”