A GROUP of residents from Kingsbridge have been recognised for their bravery in bringing a rogue trader to justice following an investigation by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards.
The three residents along with Sergeant Rachel Ward and Trading Standards Officer, David Keys are the proud recipients of the Trading Standards Heroes Award, given out a glitzy ceremony in Harrogate today (Thursday July 3).
The event, organised and hosted by the Trading Standards Institute recognises acts of bravery or hard work which have made an outstanding contribution to consumer protection.
In this case, 30 year old Daniel John Paul Ward from Yorkshire had performed sub-standard work at the victims’ properties, overcharged them and dumped building material including asbestos in nearby countryside.
For the full background of the case, go here The investigation began when the three separate flytips were reported to South Hams District Council and traced back to Ward and the police and Trading Standards were then called in as part of a wider investigation into matters after a concerned resident passed a flyer, distributed on doorsteps by Ward to the local neighbourhood Police beat officer for Kingsbridge.
The subsequent joint investigation by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service also involved officers from Devon and Cornwall Police and South Hams District Council’s Environmental Protection team.
On one property he charged the elderly occupant £700 for a damp proof coating, when he simply coated some of the house wall below the damp proof course with paint.
Once arrested Ward denied being involved, but he was picked out in an identification parade and his fingerprint was found on the cheque book of one of his victims.
The three victims who were all elderly and were suffering from various conditions, supported the investigation and all gave evidence crucial to the case.
The victims were subjected to intimidating and agressive behaviour, made worse by the fact that they were frail and in one gentleman's case, very hard of hearing. The defendant used threatening language when demanding payment which caused great distress for the residents leaving them fearful and extremely anxious.
Sergeant Rachel Ward and Trading Standards Officer David Keys collected the award on behalf of the residents but also for their own work in bringing the case to court.
David says; “A rogue builder ripped off elderly customers by charging them up to three times the fair price for shoddy and unnecessary work. Dan Ward of Master Roofing targeted elderly customers including an 88 year old frail widow and a gentleman who was very hard of hearing. The actions of the defendant left the victims very scared and concerned about retribution, if giving evidence against him.
To make matters worse Mr Ward allowed asbestos and other waste to be dumped across the South Hams countryside, which the judge in the case described as the 'scourge' of Devon.”
Cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards in Devon, Roger Croad said: “I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to both the residents, officers and police who all played their part in this investigation.
"This was a undoubtedly a stressful and unpleasant experience for the victims concerned. The fact that they were able to overcome their fears and give evidence was essential in acheiving a successful result.
"Not only does it send out a message to the perpetrators of such crimes, it demonstrates excellent working practice by both the Trading Standards team and our partners."
South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services Cllr Rufus Gilbert said: “The Judge stated that fly tipping was'the scourge of people living in Devon' and I totally echo that sentiment, particularly on behalf of the residents of the South Hams.
"This is an appalling case where the defendant not only targeted elderly people to make money from them but he also allowed asbestos, which can pose a serious risk to health, to be fly tipped in three separate locations across the South Hams.
"The Council takes fly tipping very seriously and we will prosecute any known offender to ensure that the beauty of the South Hams is not marred.”
The Hero Award is held at the annual Trading Standards and consumer Affairs Conference.
It celebrates outstanding contributions by individuals or groups of people to consumer protection. They are the ‘unsung heroes’ who have gone above and beyond their duty to make a difference.
The winners were nominated by the Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service