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Fraudster who conned residents for non-existent building and landscaping handed suspended prison sentence

A rogue trader who fleeced £9,000 from a Staffordshire couple after claiming to carry out garden landscaping and building has been handed a nine-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to repay the total amount to the victims.

Darren Woodley, of Meadow Lane, Newhall, Swadlincote, was sentenced at Stoke Crown Court on September 13. He had pleaded guilty to fraud offences at an earlier hearing.

In June 2017 Woodley, 49, agreed to build a conservatory and landscape the garden of a Tamworth couple under his company name – First Call Maintenance. One of the couple, a 56-year-old who has a disability and receives care in her home, paid £9,000 into Woodley’s private bank account.

Woodley did not provide any business paperwork or a cancellation notice on receiving the deposit. After starting work at the property, Woodley soon left and failed to progress it. He later declared himself bankrupt.

Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team investigated and brought the prosecution against Woodley, who must also carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work.

The victim said Woodley had left her garden ‘like a construction site’ and that her husband had used his retirement money to pay for the works. She added that they had since struggled financially and been unable to buy family members birthday and Christmas presents.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said:

This was a callous crime by someone who clearly had no intention of carrying out the work he had been paid to do.

This was a huge sum of money which the victims lost. It has had a terrible effect on them financially and emotionally so we are pleased with the outcome of this case and that Woodley has been ordered to pay the money back.

Our trading standards team works principally to support Staffordshire businesses but also protects residents and helps to keep people safe. We always urge people to obtain at least three quotes for work they need doing, to go on personal recommendations and to be extremely wary of cold callers.”