Chipping Norton,

Rogue roofer sentenced for fraud

An Oxfordshire roofer has been sentenced after pleading guilty to two charges of fraud at Oxford Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 19 December 2023).

The owner of Oxfordshire Roofing Company, Mr Jesse Shepherd, was sentenced to 30 weeks custody, suspended for two years, following an investigation by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.

Mr Shepherd, 56, from the Beeches, near Chipping Norton, pleaded guilty to the two offences relating to defective roofing work carried out at a property in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire in 2020. This was after he changed his pleas on 22 November 2023, near the start of a trial.

He was also sentenced to pay £4,200 in compensation to the victim, £3,000 towards the Council’s costs and a victim surcharge.

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: “The vast majority of Oxfordshire’s builders complete their work on time and to their customers’ satisfaction. When this is not the case and traders take money for rushed bodge jobs, then our trading standards team are here to protect residents from the actions of rogue traders.”

The fraud charges arose from false representations made by Mr Shepherd to his client, namely that work would be done to a reasonable and competent standard – “A grade materials” would be used and that workmanship and materials were covered with a 20 year guarantee.

Despite these assurances, the roof began leaking within days of being completed. An expert instructed by trading standards, who later evaluated the work, described the materials used as being “cheap” and “inadequate” and that a broken tile had been “bodged up with mastic,” instead of being replaced.

The expert also concluded that the work carried out by Oxfordshire Roofing Company was so poor that it had no value at all, as there was no alternative but for the new roof to be entirely replaced by another trader.

Mr Shepherd was paid £1,700 towards the £3,400 he had quoted for the roofing work, but the remaining sum was not paid as a leak occurred before this payment was made. The £3,400 quote was also unrealistic to complete the job, as the same expert who assessed the work done by Oxfordshire Roofing Company priced the job at £7,248 including VAT to be done properly.

 This is the second time Mr Shepherd has been prosecuted by Oxfordshire County Council for an offence of fraud for defective roofing work. He was previously fined following a guilty plea at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in 2009, at which time he was trading as Right Choice Roofing.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “We advise anybody who is looking for a reliable trader to always get a number of detailed quotes, check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader, from our Buy With Confidence scheme.

“We would also advise that customers resist calls for payment ahead of when sums are due to be paid under the agreement they have with a trader. It is unfortunately very common for rogue traders to seek as much money as possible either upfront or at a very early stage in the works and then either fail to order materials that have been paid for or substitute them with cheaper, less suitable materials, than what has been invoiced for.”

Any Oxfordshire resident that has concerns about activity of this nature should report it to trading standards via the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline 0808 223 1133.

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