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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

County Antrim plumber given suspended sentence for defrauding consumer

A County Antrim plumber who failed to install a new heating system after being paid £9,000 by a consumer was today given a four-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Laganside Magistrates’ Court.

The court also granted a compensation order for £8,000.

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service (TSS) of the Department for the Economy, Mr Seamus Johnston (47) of Toalstown Meadows, Toomebridge, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fraud Act 2006.

In early 2016 Mr Johnston persuaded a consumer that he could install a new energy-saving heating system that would save the consumer money. Over the course of two months he received five payments totalling £9,000 to replace the system.

Mr Johnston had previously carried out plumbing repair works and servicing at the victim’s home.

However, Mr Johnston neither carried out the work nor did he supply any of the equipment he had been paid for. The consumer made repeated requests for their money to be returned and in July 2017 the consumer eventually received a refund of £1,000 from Mr Johnston.

He then promised to pay back the outstanding sum of £8,000 in monthly repayments of £500, but no such payments were ever received by the victim.

Alison Gilchrist of the TSS said:

“Each time Mr Johnston visited this consumer he managed to persuade them to pay him more and more money towards the promised heating system, until in the end a total of £9,000 had been paid upfront and the consumer was left with nothing to show for it.

“It is evident that Mr Johnston employed unscrupulous tactics to take advantage of an isolated individual. This was a callous and cynical fraud and deserved to be brought to court.”

The advice to consumers is not to pay upfront for goods or services. The TSS has seen numerous cases where traders have received large sums of money upfront for work that they have then either failed to do, or completed to an exceptionally poor standard.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a rogue trader should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.


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