Landscaper ordered to pay more than £2,300 for failing to complete work
A landscaper who charged for work that he failed to complete has been ordered to pay more than £2,300 by a court.
Ryan White, who now lives in Cumbria, was successfully prosecuted by our trading standards team after failing to complete a number of jobs across County Durham and Darlington whilst trading as R&J Landscapes in 2019.
White was ordered to pay £2,351 for misleading consumers, failing to complete works that had been agreed and failing to refund consumers when he could not fulfil the works. While he charged almost £10,000 for work, his victims have either got their money back or started proceedings in order to do so.
The father of four, from Lovers Lane, Longtown, had advertised his business on Facebook, offering to work at a special rate of materials only with no labour charge because his business had just set up.
Failing to complete agreed work
Despite taking payment for work at three properties in County Durham and Darlington, the 27-year-old carried out no more than one day's work at each of the homes and failed to complete any of the jobs for which he was hired.
In February 2019, White quoted his first customer £1,900 for block paving and a concreted area for a drive in Bishop Auckland, asking for the money upfront for materials. However, after working at the property for one day, he asked for another £200 to remove soil which he was paid for, before failing to complete any more work.
The homeowner then had to pay around £600 for a temporary repair to their drive.
Two months later, in April 2019, he attended a property in Darlington to provide a quote for paving and turf. Despite £5,050 being paid to White on 1 May 2019, the work wasn't started on the agreed date and he offered to refund 50% of the money as a result, which was not repaid.
After completing three hours work on 29 June 2019, White said he no longer wanted that job and would provide a full refund minus any work and materials. After failing to repay that, he offered his car as means of payment but as the vehicle was finance, it didn't belong to him.
In May 2019, White also visited a property in Newton Aycliffe, quoting almost £3,000 for paving and fencing to a front garden, agreeing to start work around 23 May.
He asked for payment up front for materials and was given £1,000 in cash and a further £,1,120 by bank transfer after one day's work at the property. However, no further work was completed.
Another charge against White
When he was interviewed by our trading standards team, White admitted to lying to all three customers and couldn't produce any paperwork relating to the jobs in question. He claimed his business was in debt and that he was taking on the work to pay customers back.
Following this interview, it emerged that White had also taken on another job in Darlington in August 2019, where he failed to complete fencing work to a reasonable standard.
Working together with Darlington's trading standards team, a second charge of failing to complete the work to a reasonable standard was then brought against White, who pleaded guilty to both offences whilst appearing at Peterlee Magistrates Court.
In mitigation, White's solicitor said his early guilty plea and initial co-operation with trading standards should be taken into account. He also said that White was very remorseful for his actions.
Magistrates fined him £750 and ordered him to pay court costs of more than £1,526 and a £75 victim surcharge.
Sending a clear message
Owen Cleugh, our public protection manager, said: "We take these offences very seriously and hope this case sends a clear message that we will continue to take action against anyone who isn't trading fairly.
"Regulations are in place to protect our community against anyone who is failing to complete work which has been paid for, or for work which isn't carried out to a suitable standard and we would encourage anyone who has fallen victim to such traders to contact us."
Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for stronger communities, said: "Our trading standards officers aim is to protect those within our community who have fallen victim to rogue traders. This joint prosecution between Durham and Darlington sends out a clear message that we will not hesitate to take firm action."