Builder jailed for preying on elderly

A cowboy builder has been jailed after his building company began knocking a pensioner’s house down without getting permission.

Gary Nichols, Director of Gladstone Roofing and Property Maintenance Ltd, was sentenced to one year after his firm targeted two elderly residents in the Raynes Park area. The case was successfully brought by Merton Council.

One of their cold calling victims was a resident of Prince George’s Avenue, Raynes Park, who initially agreed to have moss removed from her roof only for the builders to recommend bogus repairs and immediately start work without her consent or a contract.

Cllr Ross Garrod, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Street Cleanliness and Parking,  said: “This was sheer bullying and a relative of this resident eventually had the good sense to alert the authorities.”

The builders removed tiles from the roof and kitchen, put all their contents into the garden and the following day made an unwelcome return removing a back door, windows and partially removed a wall.

She reluctantly handed the builders £6,000 after a week and they repeatedly demanded more with an original figure of £10,000 spiralling to £26,000.

Trading Standards subsequently intervened and recovered £1,900 before finding a second victim living in Worple Road whose original agreement to have a downpipe replaced by Gladstone led to unauthorised works on the roof and a bill of £45,000.

A neighbour subsequently raised the alarm and Gary Nicols was arrested at the address by the Police. He was interviewed by Trading Standards Officers but refused to provide the names and addresses of the other men involved.

Cllr Garrod added: “No-one should feel powerless if they think they are being taken advantage of and should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who will notify the council’s Trading Standards team. The team will take swift action to protect residents from rogue traders. If residents feel threatened or intimidated they should call the Police immediately.”