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Self-employed Lurgan man sentenced after Trading Standards probe into ‘home improvements’ jobs

It was discovered the defendant took a total of £92,000 from nine victims for work which was either unfinished or carried out to an extremely poor standard

A self-employed Lurgan trader who carried out range of roofing, paving and landscaping services for nine customers – leaving them with unfinished jobs or work of an extremely poor standard – has been sentenced to 100 hours community service

Benjamin George McCaughley appeared before Belfast Crown Court today (Thursday), where he was also banned from being the director of company for a total of five years.

The case was brought by the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service (TSS).

Thirty-four-year-old McCaughley, of Springhill Road, trading as both Regional Contractors and Complete Home improvements, pleaded guilty to 20 charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

All nine victims complained to TSS after employing McCaughley to carry out improvement works to their properties between January 2020 and December 2022.

Following an extensive investigation by TSS it was discovered that the defendant took a total of £92,000 from nine victims for work to be completed at their properties, including roofing, cladding, driveway repairs, gardening and landscaping.

In all nine cases the victims were left with either unfinished work or with work that was carried out to an extremely poor standard.

In seven of the nine cases, McCaughley informed the victims that his work came guaranteed, in some cases for 10 years.

Unfortunately, when they encountered problems with the work and approached him to rectify matters he repeatedly ignored them and that the promise of a guarantee was entirely false.

Some of the victims also tried to obtain redress by sending letters to the addresses quoted in McCaughley’s flyers or invoices but received no responses.

Investigations by the TSS found that these related to the addresses of virtual offices which McCaughley had no authority to use.

Alison Gilchrist, of the TSS, said: “This is a serious example of a rogue trader failing to complete agreed work, carrying out substandard work and providing his victims with false information relating to his trading details.

“Mr McCaughley received a total of £92,000 from the nine complainants covered by these cases and every single one had grounds for complaint. Many of the victims have been left in need of further expenditure for repair work.”

Ms Gilchrist added: “Rogue traders cause a huge amount of upset and stress to their victims who have worked hard and saved to pay for what they think will be improvements to their home. At a time of rising prices and increased cost of living it is hugely important for consumers to have confidence in local tradespeople and to expect good quality, professional services.

“TSS will continue to seek to protect consumers in NI by raising awareness of the activities of rogue traders, supporting consumers when targeted by rogue traders and investigating these traders to ensure that appropriate action is taken against them.”

TSS offers the following advice for consumers seeking to have home improvement work carried out:

  • Ask your neighbours, family and friends for recommendations.
  • Speak to previous customers for references and view the work, where possible.
  • Check if they are a member of a trade body with an arbitration scheme.
  • Take your time on a decision, do not be pressurised into making a decision.
  • Get at least three quotes to compare.
  • Never agree to work following a cold call or knock at the door.
  • Never pay up front and never pay cash.
  • Only pay for work that has been completed.
  • Always get a detailed written quotation/contract and agree a price.
  • Be careful when using online trading platforms and be aware that traders who respond to requests for work have not been approved by the platform.

Anyone who believes they have been similarly affected should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.

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