A roofer from Gainsborough has been fined more than £10,000 after gambling away customers’ cash.
Leon David Mann of Pilgrims Way, was handed a 16-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty 12 fraud offences, Lincoln Crown Court heard.
Mann was subject to a nine-month investigation by Lincolnshire Trading Standards, which had received complaints about his company, Gainsborough Roofing.
Customers told Trading Standards he was taking 50% deposits of between £500 to £2,750 upfront, and then not doing any work.
Mann claimed the deposits were to purchase materials and to secure start dates. But the Trading Standard’s investigation revealed as soon as deposits were paid into Mann’s bank account, he used the money on online gambling sites.
When the victims tried to contact Mann after he failed to turn up to carry out the work they had paid for, they were given various excuses including personal illness, family illness, adverse weather, vehicle problems and COVID.
Some victims said they found Mann charming when they first met him, but he became aggressive and intimidating when they had to start chasing him.
In one case, Mann took more than £2,000 from a family to repair a leaking roof. He subsequently failed to carry out any of this work. At the time, one of the occupants of the property was going through cancer treatment.
Over an eight-week period through the height of winter, the family contacted Mann and agreed new start dates, which were then missed, causing more stress to the family. Eventually, after being promised they were ‘next on the list’, Mann agreed to refund the deposit. This was never refunded, and the family instead had to find extra money to pay another tradesman to do the necessary work.
Another victim of Mann was going through radiotherapy at the time they paid £2,750 as a 50% deposit for repairs to their roof. Mann arranged a number of different start dates before eventually promising to refund the couple. Again he failed to refund a penny of the deposit they paid.
Mann plead guilty to 12 offences under the Fraud Act 2006 at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court. Due to the number of victims, the period of Mann’s offending, and the impact on the victims, the case was referred to Lincoln Crown Court for sentencing.
On May 20, Mr Mann was handed a 16-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years; ordered to pay compensation totalling £9,410 within six months, and; ordered to pay £2,500 to the prosecution within 12 months.
Tara Carter, senior Trading Standards officer for Lincolnshire, said: “The vast majority of Lincolnshire’s builders complete their work on time and to their customers’ satisfaction. When this is not the case and traders take money for inadequate work, or simply don’t do the work at all, then Lincolnshire Trading Standards team are here to protect residents from rogue trader activities.
“At the time of the offences, starting from December 2019 up to May 2021, Mr Leon Mann was trading as Gainsborough Roofing. And, since December 2020, he was aware he was being investigated but still continued taking victims’ money with either no intention of doing any work, or doing work to shoddy standards. I’m pleased that the judge has recognised the severity of Mr Mann’s crimes and the impact he’s had on his victims, and most of them will be getting their money back.”
If you think a business is operating in a way it shouldn’t, you can report this to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline by calling 0808 223 1133 or visiting www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.