A building company director from County Durham has been sentenced to 8 months in prison at Teesside Crown Court after pleading guilty to 14 counts of using misleading and aggressive commercial practices.
Between 2016 and 2018 Neil Trotter, 59, of Hackworth Close in Shildon traded under the business name NEIL (North East) Ltd) to carry out building work on people’s homes. He often took money ahead of schedule – including payments in full – and then failed to complete the building work. He also often intimidated customers to extract the payments and threatened to walk off the job.
An investigation carried out by National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (North East), Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and the National Trading Standards eCrime team, found that the money handed over by customers for the contracted work was then not used for this purpose.
The investigation also found that Mr Trotter grossly exaggerated his building experience. An email sent from his address stated that NEIL (North East) Ltd had 30+ years’ experience, when in fact Mr Trotter only had 2-3 years’ experience as a building contractor.
One couple from Stockton-on-Tees paid the defendant £33,000 for a two-storey extension to their home. This building work was not adequately undertaken and completed to a standard which would reasonably be expected from a professional tradesman. Other customers handed over money after being deceived about the defendant’s experience in the building trade.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“The defendant in this case has been found to be consistently dishonest. His misleading and aggressive practices resulted in several victims suffering considerable financial losses. This case should act as a warning to others that such deceitful actions will be prosecuted.
“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 03454 04 05 06.”
Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said:
“Everyone should expect the work they pay for in good faith to be carried out to at least an acceptable standard but unfortunately Mr Trotter clearly had little to no intention of providing a good service for his customers.
“The total disregard he has shown for his customers has left them with shoddy or unfinished work and this is simply unacceptable.
“His sentence should be a warning to others that they must take their legal responsibilities seriously or they will face the consequences.
“Our Trading Standards officers work hard to protect the interests of customers and reputable businesses – anyone in need of advice can contact the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org”
Notes to Editors
Notes to editors
Neil Trotter pleaded guilty in December 2019 to engaging in misleading and aggressive commercial practices.
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.