Rogue traders jailed after targeting St Albans residents

PUBLISHED: 06:49 03 September 2012

Scales of Justice.

Scales of Justice.

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A ROGUE trader who targeted vulnerable people in St Albans has been jailed together with his father for trying to trick elderly people out of cash for building repairs.

Michael Maughan and his father James both targeted victims in Rickmansworth and Michael, on his own, called at the homes of unsuspecting residents of St Albans.

Maurice Aston, prosecuting at St Albans Crown Court, said: “They were rogue traders who targeted the old and the vulnerable saying work needed to be done. The work was not needed and when it was done it was overcharged.”

While both men were on bail in April this year Michael went to the home of an 86-year-old woman with dementia in Cavendish Road, St Albans. He asked for £300 for repairs to be carried out but did not get paid because the elderly woman could not find any cash.

He was arrested after going to the home of an 88-year-old man in Thirlmere Drive, St Albans and saying there was a water leak next door. The police were called and Maughan who was in a BMW was arrested. He told the officers he was just leafleting in the area.

Mr Aston outlined how on another occasion, damage was caused to a roof by James Maughan and an offer was made to repair it at an inflated price.

It happened in August last year when father and son were in a white van in the Rickmansworth and Chorleywood area. where James told a woman householder that one of her roof tiles was loose and had slipped.

Mr Aston said: “She told him the roof was sound and that she had worked in the trade for years. James Maughan retreated to his van and when he had gone the householder called the police.”

He said the two men drove onto another Rickmansworth address and went to the home of a 95-year-old man who was with his carer. Michael pretended he had been working next door and said he could repair the man’s chimney for £125.

The money was handed over but the work that was carried out was not to a professional standard and while on the roof James Maughan broke a tile. The elderly resident was told he would need to pay £325 for it to be repaired but “the job would last a lifetime.”

A neighbour approached and asked how much it would be to remove moss from the roof and to repair a wall. The neighbour was quoted £325 but the men were arrested before work was done.

The carer had also asked for a quote to clear the gutters at her own home and was followed by Michael Maughan in her car when she left the elderly man’s home. She was told it would cost £80 and had to physically stop him carrying out the work. When she told them a window cleaner could do it for £25, she was quoted £30.

When questioned Michael Maughan said it was his business and that his father was helping him out.

Michael Maughan, 20, of Sycamore Road, Croxley Green, pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud by false representation. He was in breach of a 20-week jail sentence suspended by Central Herts Magistrates for a similar offence.

James Maughan, 41, of Dun Roamin Park, Whitfield, Brackley, Northants, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and fraud by false representation.

Richard Ricks for Michael Maughan said he now had a partner and wanted to move away from the area and start afresh. “He is fed up with the consequences of his offending behaviour. He realises it was unacceptable.”

For James Maughan, Andel Singh said that he left as soon as the woman he approached told him to go away. He said he did not deliberately cause the damage to the 95-year-old man’s roof but had done it recklessly. He pointed out that James, who was supported at court by his wife and daughter, had not committed any offences since his arrest last August.

Judge Stephen Warner told the two men: “Targeting and preying on vulnerable elderly people in their own homes and taking advantage of them for your own gain are mean offences. The public are entitled to protection from offences of this nature.”

He jailed Michael Maughan for 40 months, ordered the seizure of his BMW and banned him from driving for two years. £50 found on him at his arrest last August was to be paid to the 95-year-old man. His father James was sentenced to 12 months and ordered to pay £60 found on him to the man.

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