Rogue trader pays the price for repair con

A PONTELAND resident who was conned by a rogue trader has seen him hauled before the courts.

Kenneth Gray, working on behalf of Safe and Protect, was meant to carry out a range of electrical remedial works at the home of Barbara Gair on December 23, 2010.

But despite saying they were completed according to an agreed list, he put in the wrong unit and did not do some of the installations.

He also did not have the necessary industry approval or endorsement that the company says is required for all of its contractors.

The deception was uncovered after Ms Gair queried the standard of his work and got in touch with Northumberland County Council Trading Standards, which launched an investigation.

Gray, of Marquis Avenue, Hamilton, Scotland, pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to a Community Order with 200 hours unpaid work and £500 costs on February 20.

Safe and Protect, based in Galashiels, and its director, Ewan Robertson, 33, of Hillside Drive, Galashiels, were also charged and he appeared at South East Northumberland Magistrates Court on Monday.

He and the company had admitted to using an installation partner that had not been endorsed by the three specified enrolment bodies mentioned in its statement to customers.

Outlining the facts of the case, Lisa Bishop, representing Northumberland County Council Trading Standards, said an electrical safety check and a periodic inspection report were carried out at the Darras Road property to set out the schedule of works.

This included the installation of a 6mm cooker supply, earth bonding to gas and water mains and a 17th edition normal consumer unit, as well as ensuring that the relevant circuits were residual current device (RCD) protected.

But when he came to the house, Gray was there for no more than a couple of hours, which included a trip to a Ponteland hardware store after saying he needed a different cable.

Ms Gair had already paid more than £650, however she was not satisfied that Gray had done everything on the list and to the correct standard so she refused to hand over the remaining amount, just over £1,000, and made a complaint to trading standards.

Gerry Dutton from the organisation carried out an inspection on January 28, 2011, and found that the 16th edition unit was installed, which Ms Gair already had, the cooker was not as specified and there was no earth bonding.

It was then discovered that Gray was not endorsed by the enrolment bodies.

“The fact that he was not accredited is the company’s responsibility, but it is also attributable to the neglect of Mr Robertson himself as the director,” Ms Bishop added.

Stephen Graham, representing Robertson, said his client and Gray became friends when working for another company.

Robertson believed him when he said he had the required accreditation and he felt conned by Gray’s actions.

“He accepts that he should have asked for the certificates immediately,” said Mr Graham.

“The correct installations were later made at Ms Gair’s home and the money she paid was refunded as part compensation for the inconvenience she suffered.”

Magistrates fined the company £3,300 and ordered it to pay £500 in costs. Robertson was fined £350 and ordered to pay £250 in costs.