A Swindon builder who defrauded 18 victims in his home town and along the M4 corridor has been jailed for 15 months.
James Michael Hookey, of Fire Fly Avenue, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (2 Nov) after admitting running a fraudulent building and gardening business. He traded as J M Property Maintenance. He will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.
The 36-year-old admitted scamming residents out of £19,413 following a lengthy investigation which was started by Swindon Trading Standards Service and later taken on by the National Trading Standards South West Regional Investigation team.
Trading Standards received complaints relating to J M Property Maintenance which included taking money from customers after providing misleading information and not completing work that had been paid for in advance.
Other customers added that he failed to supply goods and materials that had been paid for in advance, that he retained customers’ money while failing to comply with their lawful requests and demanded payment for work done without reasonable skill and care.
If challenged Hookey often became threatening and intimidating.
Sentencing him, His Honour Judge Lambert, described how Hookey was “involved in abuse and harassment” and had “inflicted misery on his victims”.
Councillor Jim Grant, Swindon Borough’s Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Joint Working, said: “This rogue trader behaved appalling towards his customers. They paid him their hard-earned money for work they thought would be carried out in a professional manner and to a high standard. They got neither.
“I am really pleased that the hard work of our Trading Standards officers in Swindon and that of the South West Regional Investigation team, has resulted in this successful prosecution.
“We will not hesitate to take action if complaints about rogue traders are raised with us because, as this case shows, their actions can cause untold emotional and financial worry to so many people.”
Members of the public can report a rogue trader by using the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or via its website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/
Notes to Editors
Media contact: Kevin Burchall, Communications Lead – Media Relations, 07387 230818
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.