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'Cowboy' trader previously hit with £7,800 bill back in court for more offences

A rogue trader previously hit with a court bill of more than £7,000 for scamming customers was been given a new sentence for similar offences.

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Christopher Cole, 46, of Brownhills near Walsall pleaded guilty to an offence relating to dishonest trading five years after he was prosecuted under the Fraud Act.

Cole had previously pleaded guilty to two offences under the Fraud Act, along with four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in 2019.

In 2019 the court heard how Cole had carried out shoddy work for clients and falsely claimed to be a FENSA-registered installer.

Following his guilty plea for the offences in 2019, Cole was handed a 14-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours of community work and ordered to pay over £4,813 in compensation to residents and £3,000 in court costs.

However, another investigation was prompted after five more complaints were handed in regarding Cole and his work in the 18 month-period he was under the terms of the suspended sentence.

The court heard how he failed to provide customers with proper quotes or honour their statutory cancellation rights. In every case, he demanded deposits or payments up front for materials which were either not delivered, or of poor quality.

Cole entered a guilty plea for the latest matter, a single offence that related to dishonest trading activities while dealing with five complainants with whom he had contracted to carry out works.

Cole appeared for sentence on May 24 this year at Wolverhampton Crown Court. He was sentenced to 23 months in jail suspended for two years, with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 100 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to a victim and £1,000 in costs.

The court also imposed a Criminal Behaviour Order restricting Cole's behaviour, which will last for 15 years.

Dr Mayada Abuaffan, Dudley Council's director of public health, said: "We have a dedicated trading standards team that did not stop till all the victims of Christopher Cole received justice.

"Let this be a warning to other traders that should they decide to carry out any fraudulent business practices in the borough, they should expect to be investigated by Dudley trading standards."

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