“Rogue trader” jailed for two years

A fireman whose part time work as a plumber was so dangerous that at times there was a risk of it causing a blaze, has been jailed for two years.

The court heard that Gary Henry of Instow, North Devon, also massively over charged vulnerable people for  work that had not been carried out. He was described by the judge as a “genuine rogue trader” whose “arrogance was breath-taking”.

The 54-year-old was convicted on three charges of fraud and three charges of contravening professional diligence under consumer protection legislation.  He denied all the charges apart from falsely claiming to be a member of OFTEC. He traded under the names of Gary Henry Ltd and Barnstaple Plumbing & Heating.

One elderly customer was charged more than £25,000 for the replacement of an oil-fired heating system which, when inspected by an expert, was found to have numerous faults including insufficient air intake for proper combustion which left a risk of poisoning. The system was also installed directly touching wooden kitchen units, posing a fire risk.

Other installations carried out by Henry were found to have unsafe electrical wiring, an oil supply line unsafely installed and, in one case, a cavity wall had not been properly sealed where a flue passed through it, also posing a fire risk.

Sentencing Henry, Judge Phillip Wassall said that his  imprisonment should send a message that the courts take such issues seriously.

Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards, urged anyone who has had work carried out by Henry to have it checked. “We will not tolerate such dishonest trading activity in Devon and I hope the sentence imposed on Mr Henry highlights how we strive to protect the people of Devon, but more importantly will encourage those who suspect they have been conned to come forward.”