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Rogue trader who put elderly at risk faces huge fine

The chimney rebuilt by Tommy Smith, giving rise to a carbon monoxide build up in a home
The chimney rebuilt by Tommy Smith, giving rise to a carbon monoxide build up in a home

A warning has been issued about rogue traders who use doorstep bullying tactics to persuade people to agree to having work done.

Parts of east Kent with many elderly and vulnerable people are a prime target.

The warning comes following the conviction of cowboy builder Tommy Smith.

Smith put elderly Birchington people at risk of potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning after plying for trade in the street and carrying out substandard work.

He now faces financial penalties topping £26,000 in fines and costs.

After the court case, Ian Treacher, assistant head of Kent Trading Standards, said: “Dealing effectively with this type of cold calling doorstep crime is and continues to be our prime objective.

“Trading standards work hard to get the message across to the public about being very careful with those that may try to persuade or trick people into work and to hand over money.

“This type of case can have a devastating effect on the victims especially as they are often elderly or vulnerable. It is a particular problem anywhere in Kent with large pockets of such people.”

About 200 calls relating to this type of rogue trading were received annually by KTS officers.

Mr Treacher added: “This is a very under reported crime. I believe the number of instances is a lot higher that that.

“People are very shy and embarassed about reporting these crimes.”

Health and Safety Executive inspector Mike Walters said after Smith’s sentencing: “It is illegal to carry out gas safety work if you are not registered to do so.

“Mr Smith took advantage of these vulnerable, elderly residents and as a result not only broke the law but caused them deep distress and potentially put their lives at risk.”

Anyone with concerns or in need of advice, can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

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