Brothers sentenced for home maintenance fraud following extradition

Two brothers have been sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today after pleading guilty to one count of participating in a fraudulent roofing and building business on December 22 at Bristol Crown Court.

Operating as MRC Roofing and Building, Michael Coffey (29), currently in HMP Bristol, was sentenced to 26 months, and Richard Coffey (25) of Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire, was sentenced to 18 months following an investigation by the National Trading Standards South West Regional Investigation team, hosted by Bristol City Council.

The investigation was triggered by complaints received by Trading Standards of doorstep crime relating to MRC Roofing and Building, which revealed the traders were targeting victims who were elderly and vulnerable.

The brothers were also issued with Criminal Behaviour Orders banning them from obtaining roofing and building work, directly or indirectly, for 7 years, and banned from being a director for 7 years.

Between July 2018 and May 2020, the brothers cold-called victims to agree work, only to inflate the price once work began. If challenged, they became threatening and intimidating. The brothers would typically start a small job and then suggest that other work was required, escalating costs. On one occasion the brothers quoted £170 to clean the driveway of a man in his 80’s, then £50 to clean the gutters. On cleaning the gutters, they claimed the roof timbers were rotten and charged a further £7,000 to carry out the repairs.

A total of 19 victims from the South West and as far as London suffered losses at the hands of the Coffey brothers - totalling more than £45,000.

The case was the first conviction in the country by Trading Standards that involved extradition. After locating Richard Coffey, who was interviewed and made no comment on the allegations, Michael Coffey was traced to Cork prison in Ireland, where he was serving time for an unrelated offence. After completing that sentence, he was extradited to the UK and held on remand until sentencing.

Wendy Martin, Director, National Trading Standards, said:

“The use of aggressive and deceitful practices to mislead elderly and vulnerable people in their homes will not be tolerated. This investigation underlines our commitment to take action against fraudulent traders to protect consumers from harm. I congratulate the National Trading Standards South West Regional Investigation Team for their ongoing work to identify suspects and bring enforcement action.

“If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a fraud like this, you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.”

Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Bristol City Council, said:

“It is our duty to protect the public from rogue traders and I am really pleased to see these men brought to justice. These offenders do not recognise local authority boundaries and this case further demonstrates the value of Bristol City Council hosting the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team.

“This case also demonstrates the remarkable skill of the team, who not only successfully worked cross-boundary to secure justice for their victims, but also secured the extradition of a defendant to ensure he did not evade prosecution.”

Notes to Editors

About National Trading Standards

National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality and by providing a “safety net” to limit unsafe consumer goods entering the UK and protecting food supplies by ensuring the animal feed chain is safe.