Roofer learns lesson in ‘minefield’ court case

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ONE half of a roofing firm which didn’t inform “cold call” customers they could back out and charged for work it hadn’t done appeared in court.

Ian Lee Shepherd and James McCool were said to have told four pensioners they had problems with their roofs, one job always led to other and a Nelson victim parted with almost £10,000 in cash over a month or so. They didn’t give proper receipts either, Pennine magistrates heard.

Father-of-two Shepherd (27), then trading as J. and I. Roofing, of Southfield Street, Nelson, admitted five counts of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading omission by not informing the customers about their right to cancel contracts.

Shepherd also pleaded guilty to four allegations of failing without reasonable excuse to comply with disclosure requirements.The court was told the business didn’t provide details of the name and address of the people behind it when it gave receipts. All the offences were committed between February and June last year, at Darwen, Colne, Nelson and Burnley.

McCool (30), of Chapelhouse Road, Nelson, was dealt with by magistrates on April 26th after admitting the same allegations. Both defendants were given a two-year conditional discharge. The Bench on Thursday told Shepherd: “We don’t like anything like this,” and ordered him to pay £200 costs.

Mr Nicholas McNamara, prosecuting for the Trading Standards Department, said the business engaged in unfair commercial practices by failing to provide consumers with cancellation notices. It also charged for work that wasn’t carried out.

Mr McNamara said last February 7th, a lady living in Darwen was told by a man her chimney needed repointing. He went on the roof and removed some ridge tiles, telling her there was a risk they could fall off and damage cars. Another man was posting flyers. She was alarmed and agreed to let them get on with the work for £1,180. Before work started, she should have been given a notice stating her the right to cancel within seven days, so she could have shopped around or reflected. On another occasion, a man handed over £2,400 for roofing work. The receipt referred to the whole chimney stack being repointed, but a surveyor found it was largely untouched.

Mr Nick Cassidy, for Shepherd, said in the past, he had been employed by reputable roofing companies. He and McCool decided to go it alone.

The solicitor told the Bench: “You won’t be surprised to know the Unfair Trading Regulations and the Companies Act are an absolute minefield. He has very much learned a lesson. “

Mr Cassidy said Shepherd, who was now on benefits, wanted to make it clear he did not target retired people. The solicitor added: “In relation to roofing, from now on he will only work for a company, because I think he accepts the legislation is too complicated for him.”