Jail for misleading landscape gardener who targeted vulnerable in Felixstowe
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 September 2015
An “unscrupulous” landscape gardener accused of posting flyers containing misleading information through the doors of several elderly and vulnerable people in the Felixstowe area has been jailed for 10 months.
In the flyers Joseph Dewing, who traded as Premier Landscapes, stated that the company had a local business number, which was in fact a public call box, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
The leaflets also showed the company employed “fully qualified tradesmen in all aspects of landscaping and brickwork design” when Dewing didn’t hold any related qualifications, said Alison Lambert, prosecuting.
Dewing was caught last September when Trading Standards responded to a rapid response call whilst the trader was at the home of an elderly resident in Felixstowe.
On that occasion it was discovered Dewing had been paid up front for landscaping work and had dug over the homeowner’s garden and thrown the garden rubbish over the fence.
Dewing, 53, formerly of Trimley St Martin, and Premier Landscapes, previously pleaded guilty to 10 charges under consumer protection regulations. The offences related to seven customers who ranged from a mother-of-three in her 20s to a customer in his 80s.
Dewing failed to attend his first sentencing earlier this year and was tracked down five months later in Kent.
Yesterday’s sentencing followed an investigation led by Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards team after they received a complaint about the activities of a doorstep trader who was targeting the homes of elderly and vulnerable people, giving quick quotes and starting work almost immediately without giving customers a cancellation notice.
Paul Donegan, for Dewing, said his client had gone on the run for four months between March and August because he was “burying his head in the sand”.
He said Dewing had struggled to understand the legal responsibilities he had as a trading entity and had now given up landscape gardening as a business.
Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Day in day out our Trading Standards team see first-hand the devastating impact rogue traders can have on the lives of unsuspecting householders; financially and emotionally.
“This sentence is a boost to the protection of consumers and a clear message that we will not allow unscrupulous behaviour.”
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