Suspended sentence for Doorstep trader who defrauded couple of £4,000

Date published: 06 September 2022

A doorstep trader who took £4,000 from an elderly couple for building materials which were never delivered, and work which was never completed, has received a suspended custodial sentence at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court.

Trading Standards Service court report
Trading Standards Service court report

In a case brought by the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service (TSS), Daniel McDonagh (22) of Hillhead Road, Toomebridge was found guilty of one charge under the Fraud Act 2006 and four charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  Mr McDonagh was handed a three-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to the victims.

In August 2017, Mr McDonagh and a colleague called unannounced to the home of an elderly couple in Islandmagee, County Antrim, offering to clear the guttering. The couple agreed to have some improvement work carried out on their garden. The work included replacing paving from the patio area, strengthening an existing retaining wall and fitting steps and a handrail.

Mr McDonagh took £2,000 in cash from the couple and commenced the work at the property. He then asked for more money to purchase materials for the patio area. He was given a further £500 and then took the householder to his building society to withdraw a further £1,500 in cash.  Following this, McDonagh failed to return to the property to complete the work.

Mr McDonagh took £4,000 in total from the victims and the materials were never supplied and the majority of the work remained unfinished.  A subsequent expert examination and report commissioned by the TSS confirmed the poor state of workmanship and concluded that the work which had been completed was of negative value as it was so poor it would have to be redone.

Alison Gilchrist of the Trading Standards Service said: “This case highlights how unscrupulous doorstep criminals operate. They call unannounced (‘cold call’) at the homes of consumers, often older adults or vulnerable consumers, offering to carry out work to their property such as roofing, tarmacing, painting, paving or landscaping work. They then charge extortionate prices, leaving work unfinished and of a very poor standard.”

Trading Standards Service offers the following tips for employing a trader:

  • Where possible, choose a trader who has been recommended by local family or friends.
  • Never hire a trader who comes to the door looking for work.
  • Check with Trade Associations to find approved traders in your area and use their arbitration schemes if disputes arise.
  • Get quotes from at least three traders to compare prices.
  • Ask for the quote in writing to ensure that the price doesn’t go up afterwards.
  • Don’t pay until the job is finished.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s your home and your decision.

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

Notes to editors: 

1. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk

2. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

3. To keep up to date with news for Trading Standards Service visit @TSSNI

4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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