A rogue gardener has been prosecuted by Caerphilly County Borough Council after ripping off a woman from Penpedairheol.
Craig Bennett, 24, who was operating as Elite Tree Care, was found guilty of two charges at Newport Magistrates’ Court under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
In March 2017, Bennett approached a woman while out in her garden and, following a discussion, told her that his business was able to carry out the work she required immediately.
A price of £1,000 was then agreed to remove the front lawn, replace with topsoil and cover with stones.
However, the woman was concerned about the quality of work and after Elite Tree Care had finished the first day of work, a pile of topsoil was now blocking her car from leaving the driveway.
The following day, Bennett returned and told the woman that the price had now risen to £3,350 and he required payment for the remaining £2,350 in order to carry out the work.
The woman felt intimidated and threatened – feeling forced to agree to Bennett’s terms to be able to get her car off the drive.
The incident was not initially reported to Trading Standards, but when Bennett returned to the address later that year, the woman was encouraged by a friend to report him.
As a result of his guilty plea, Bennett was fined £1,440.
He was also ordered to pay £1,563.25 prosecution costs and £2,010.47 in compensation to the woman.
Cllr Eluned Stenner, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: “I am pleased that Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Trading Standards Team was able to achieve a positive result on behalf of this consumer, who was left feeling intimidated as a result of this cold calling incident.
“Craig Bennett prayed on this person’s vulnerability and failed to inform the resident of her consumer rights.”
Cllr Stenner added: “Whenever we receive evidence of this type we will always seek to prosecute to ensure that we clamp down on such callous behaviour.”