A DECEITFUL rogue trader who took advantage of a retired Rugby resident, defrauding him of over £100,000, has been successfully prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service (WTS).
Darren Mitchell, who traded as Stately Paving Ltd, knocked on the door of the elderly resident’s bungalow in July 2014 and agreed to block-pave his driveway and remove an old greenhouse.
He returned to the property again and again with unknown accomplices, pressurising the resident into paying for more work including fencing, repairs to windows, building a brick shed and laying new turf. Some of the work was never done or wasn’t needed – and the pensioner was charged grossly excessive amounts.
A Trading Standards expert witness estimated that the true value of the work carried out by Mitchell and his workmen was less than £20,000, with remedial works being required costing approximately £3,835. The victim had been charged £120,000.
Over time the resident was systematically defrauded of over £100,000, sometimes withdrawing large amounts of cash from his bank account on a daily basis to pay Mitchell.
On one occasion the victim wrote a cheque for £20,000 which was meant to pay for a new shed – but which Mitchell used to buy three vehicles.
To remain hidden from his customers, Mitchell gave the name of a Leicestershire farm as his business address, despite having no connection at all with the farm or the people living there.
When WTS became aware of the fraud they launched an investigation, but in 2017 Mitchell disappeared and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was found and arrested in 2019.
At Warwick Crown Court, Mitchell, 46, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of four offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and one offence contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The case was adjourned for sentencing to Thursday April 7.
Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) community safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump said: “This has been a very lengthy and complicated investigation, but I’m delighted that WTS has been able to bring about a successful prosecution.
“WTS will continue to seek to protect the most vulnerable in our community by raising awareness of the activities of rogue traders, supporting vulnerable residents when rogue traders arrive on their doorstep and investigating and prosecuting perpetrators.”
WTS is now attempting to recover some of the money lost to the victim in this case.
Call 0808 223 1133 to report rogue traders to WTS.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders to use WCC’s approved trader schemes, which lists traders which are vetted and WTS-approved.