Rogue traders fined for scamming pensioner

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editorial image

Two Coalisland traders were fined a total of £2,000 at Dungannon Magistrates Court yesterday (Wednesday) for scamming a Greenisland pensioner.

In a case brought by the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service, Edward McDonagh (52) and Bernard Christopher McDonagh (23), Innishmore Gardens, Coalisland both pleaded guilty to one charge each of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

They were each fined £1,000 and compensation orders of £2,350 in respect of each trader was ordered to be paid to the victim’s estate.

In November 2016 a highly vulnerable, 75-year-old male living in Greenisland was cold called by a gang of doorstep traders offering to carry out maintenance work to his home.

Various gang members, some of whom were subsequently identified, called over a period of 10 days. The pensioner was initially shown brochures containing before and after photographs supposedly of work carried out by the traders at previous jobs. He agreed to Bernard McDonagh cleaning the roof and a colleague to repoint the chimney, ridge tiles and to seal the roof at a total cost of £1,500.

Cash payment upfront was demanded and the pensioner drove to the bank to get the money which he handed over. On the next visit, Bernard McDonagh persuaded him to have his side and rear garden walls power washed at a cost of £700. Demanding payment, they coerced him to drive to the bank for cash while they followed in their van.

In a further visit, another £4,700 was demanded by Edward McDonagh for the work that was to be done. Complaining he had already paid them some £2,200, the amount was reduced to £2,500. As the traders had already commenced work on his home, the pensioner felt obliged to pay.

Once again, they followed him to his bank. Although little of the work had been completed, he felt intimidated by the situation and, even in the safety of the bank, he was fearful and felt unable to do anything knowing they were outside. He handed over the cash in an adjacent car park and was left with only £100 in his account.

Edward McDonagh returned the following day, this time seeking to tarmac the pensioner’s driveway at a cost of £2,450. It was only through the intervention of a neighbour, who became aware of the man’s plight, that Edward McDonagh left the property.

None of the overpriced work regarding the repointing of the ridge tiles, chimney or sealing of the roof was carried out. The value of work actually completed was only a few hundred pounds.

Alison Gilchrist, of the Trading Standards Service< said: “This was a despicable crime. These rogue traders scammed this pensioner out of his savings. Sadly, he passed away in early 2018 never seeing these traders brought before the court.”