A conman builder who scammed elderly customers out of thousands of pounds for fraudulent and substandard home improvement work has received a lengthy prison sentence.
Adam Routledge, 36, of Stenhills Crescent, Runcorn, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud committed in Manchester, and had two similar offences of fraud committed in Cheshire taken into consideration.
He was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday 26 January 2021.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standards team joined forces with Halton Trading Standards to investigate complaints about the defendant from vulnerable residents in Northwich and Runcorn.
They later joined up with Manchester Trading Standards colleagues who were already taking a case against the defendant for similar offences.
The offences concerned the operation of his business, the Gutter Company which
was set up by Routledge around May 2018. The defendant relied on leafleting to generate business from residential customers. He would go door-to-door posting leaflets and knocking on doors in an effort to generate work. On his leaflets he offered gutter cleaning and replacement services with a 10% discount for ‘OAPs’.
In respect of the Manchester offence Routledge fraudulently told his elderly victim that works being completed by him had been signed off as being compliant with building regulations.
In respect of the Cheshire offences taken into consideration, Routledge fraudulently told one elderly victim that he required £1000 to pay for scaffolding for work he was doing on their house which never arrived. For the other Routledge fraudulently told her she needed to have her kitchen demolished and rebuilt at a cost of £20,000.
In summing up Judge Cross QC said Routledge had purposely targeted elderly people for his fraudulent practices and had caused distress to his victims and their families.
The judge said the victim statements for this case were distressing and the defendant has affected their lives in a way that can never be mended.
He said the victims had been frightened, this has changed their lives and they are now extremely vulnerable. The judge said “There is a mark of shame on your character. You were leaving your home and going to the wealthiest suburbs to practice this fraud.”
Councillor Dave Cargill. Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, said: “This is a good example of joined up working between local authorities. This type of fraudulent activity will not be tolerated, especially when targeted at the elderly.
“Trading Standards officers work hard to protect residents from unscrupulous individuals willing to scam people in vulnerable situations into handing over large sums of money.”
“The defendant’s actions have caused considerable distress. I hope the outcome of this case sends a clear message to anyone considering criminal business activities, as Trading Standards will find you and bring you to justice.”
If you think you’ve been the victim of a fraudulent tradesperson, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service – 0808 223 1133.