Gardeners guilty of rogue trading

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

TWO rogue tree surgeons who harassed a Scarborough resident into paying for unauthorised gardening work have been ordered to pay compensation to their victim.

Stenie Wilson and Frank Foy Lowther, both of Long Street in Thirsk, pleaded guilty at York Crown Court to two offences of engaging in aggressive trading practices.

The court heard that Lowther and Wilson knocked on the door of a male resident in the Whin Bank area in November last year, and offered to provide a written quote for gardening work.

The man, who had just finished a night shift, agreed to the offer before closing the door to return to sleep.

He then heard a noise like a chainsaw several minutes later, and when he got up to investigate, he found two men in his rear garden chopping down trees.

The resident had not authorised the work and was further perturbed when the men then asked for payment.

Lowther became insistent that payment was made and that the victim should go to the bank to obtain £1,800 to pay them.

The two men then accompanied him to the bank, where he withdrew £750. They then told him they would return for the rest of the money.

The victim was so upset and frightened by what had happened that he reported the matter to the police, who then informed trading standards.

Three days later, the traders returned to the property.

The victim did not answer the door, but waited for the men to leave before he went to report the matter again to the police.

Having visited the police station, the victim returned to his car in Scarborough town centre.

He was then approached by the traders again who wanted him to go to the bank to get further payment for them.

He went to the bank, with the traders following him, and reported the men to the police for a third time.

The court heard that both defendants had expressed their remorse.

Passing sentence, Judge Colin Burn said that, although the victim had clearly been frightened and the defendants’ approach threatening, he was satisfied that the pair had not set out that day to blackmail or demand money with menaces.

He added that if they had they been charged with such actions they would have faced considerable prison sentences.

Both men were sentenced to 12-month community orders with a requirement to each complete 180 hours’ unpaid work.

They were also ordered each to pay compensation of £375 to the victim and £600 towards the cost to North Yorkshire Trading Standards of prosecuting the case – estimated to total £2,594.35.