A builder from Westbury-on-Trym has been given a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of fraud at Bristol Magistrates Court.
Robert Bees, trading as R and D Builders, was last week sentenced to a 26 week prison sentence, which was suspended for 2 years, for seven offences of fraud. He was ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, attend 12 days of rehabilitation and pay back all the money that his customers had lost. He was also given a Criminal Behaviour Order that prohibits him from offering or carrying out any services for garden or building maintenance for 10 years. He was warned that if he breaks any of the requirements he will be required to serve a prison sentence.
He failed to attend his earlier trial hearing and so the court went ahead and heard the case in his absence.
Bees took £4950 from one homeowner who employed him to replaster and damp seal their house, install a vent in the bathroom and carry out roofing work. Had the work been done to a reasonable standard, an expert surveyor assessed the value of the work would have been £800.
The court also heard that one couple was left with an unfinished roof on their house and what little work had been done by Bees was so poor that they had to pay even more money to get another builder to fix it.
Cllr Steve Pearce, Cabinet member for Waste, Regulatory Services and Commercialisation, said: “Our Trading Standards officers work hard to protect the rights of consumers in Bristol. The victims in this case have been left emotionally and financially scarred by the acts of this fraudulent trader. He has failed to show any remorse, continuing his unscrupulous activities when he knew we were investigating and failing to turn up to his court hearing. We would urge anyone who is thinking of employing a trader to work on their home to seek recommendations and ensure that you obtain a quote prior to the work commencing. People should also be wary of paying large sums of money upfront.”
Bees evaded the Trading Standards officers and their colleagues during their investigation. Even after he had been arrested and interviewed, he still carried on taking money from home owners and not completing the work.
In all cases investigated by Trading Standards, Mr Bees failed to give cancellation rights or the necessary information (such as business details) to his customers.
Anyone who has concerns about a trader that has been employed or needs advice about their rights, should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for guidance.