Rogue roofer jailed after scamming vulnerable man
A rogue roofer has been jailed after attempting to charge a vulnerable man more than four times the price he'd quoted for repair work.
Kenan Samme, 24, of Shildon, was sentenced at Durham Crown Court on Friday (3 February) after pleading guilty to an offence of fraud by false representation.
Calls and threats
The court heard Samme and an associate called at the vulnerable man's Newton Hall home in February 2021 and told him his roof needed repairs.
When the man asked if the repairs were really needed, they told him the tiles could fall off and hurt someone and quoted him £180 for repair work.
The following month, Samme, trading as Premier Home Improvements, called the man and threatened to report him to the council if he didn't agree to have the work done.
The man agreed, and Samme and two associates turned up that day to start work, finishing two days later.
They then presented the resident with a bill for £828 and said he must pay up urgently.
When the man headed out to find a cashpoint, he saw a neighbour and told them what was going on and the police were called.
Samme and his two associates were still at the property when the police arrived, and after police asked them to leave they threatened to remove the tiles from the roof.
They then unloaded the waste from the job and left it in the man's garden.
We prosecuted Keenan after leading an investigation, during which an expert found the shoddy work will cost the victim around £520 to correct.
The victim said he no longer answers the phone and finds himself "keeping an eye" on any trucks when he's out shopping as he's worried he might come across the men again.
"I've been trying to remain confident but it's not always easy," he said.
Samme was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment for the fraud offence, and four months for breaching a suspended sentence for an unrelated conviction in 2019.
The court rejected an application for Samme to compensate the victim.
In mitigation, Samme's representative said he's remained in employment since the offence, and complied with the terms of his suspended sentence, including unpaid work.
'A case of bullying a vulnerable man'
Joanne Waller, our head of community protection services, said: "The Judge was of the view that this was very clearly a case of Samme bullying a vulnerable man.
"He targeted his victim, was persistent in his approach, and deceived him by pretending to carry out more work than he'd actually done.
"And the work that was done actually caused more damage to the property.
"He then insisted on being paid immediately. We're only thankful that the victim's neighbour was vigilant and soon realised what was going on.
"The victim's comments tell you everything you need to know about the distress this callous and despicable behaviour has caused him.
"We will always take action against anyone employing such underhand and dishonest practices.
"We hope the custodial sentence will serve as a warning to any rogue traders who are thinking of operating across County Durham."
Samme's associate fined
Robert Luke Harvey, who was involved in the work, was convicted of a single count of contravening professional diligence.
He was fined £120 and ordered to pay the victim £200 in compensation as well as £100 towards prosecution costs.
Anyone who has concerns about a trader and the work they have carried out should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.