A cowboy builder has been jailed after his company charged elderly residents in Raynes Park thousands of pounds for phoney building work.

Gary Nichols, 43, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Friday, July 28. He previously pleaded guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court.

Gladstone Roofing and Property Maintenance Ltd, of which he is a director, targeted two elderly residents in the Raynes Park area at the end of last year.

The first, in Prince George's Avenue, agreed to have moss removed from her roof in November 2016. But builders recommended other bogus repairs, and started knocking down the pensioner’s house without permission or contract.

Your Local Guardian:

Tiles were removed from the roof and kitchen and dumped them in the garden before returning the next day to remove a back door, windows, and part of a wall.

The woman was forced to pay £6,000 a week for the unnecessary 'repairs'. An original quote of £10,000 escalated to £26,000.

In this case, Trading Standards intervened and were able to recover £1,900, but it was then that a second victim, in Worple Road, was billed £45,000 for unauthorised work on a roof.

The homeowner originally asked for a drainpipe to be replaced. A neighbour raised the alarm and Nichols was arrested at the address.

Your Local Guardian:

Nichols, of Station Road in West Byfleet, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for engaging in aggressive commercial practice in Prince George's Avenue, and three months imprisonment to run consecutively for engaging in unfair commercial practice in Worple Road.

He refused to give the identities of other builders involved.

Nichols also pleaded guilty to three other offences - failure to give notice of a right to cancel contract in St George's Avenue, engaging in an unfair commercial practice in St George's Avenue, and failure to give notice of right to cancel contract in Worple Road.

The company was ordered to pay £50 per offence, totalling £250.

Cllr Ross Garrod, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Street Cleanliness and Parking, said: “This was sheer bullying and a relative of this resident eventually had the good sense to alert the authorities.

“No-one should feel powerless if they think they are being taken advantage of call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who will notify our Trading Standards team. The team will take swift action to protect residents from rogue traders. If residents feel threatened or intimidated they should call the Police immediately.”