40 month sentence for rogue builder
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A prolific rogue trader who preyed on some vulnerable residents in the county has been sentenced to 40 months imprisonment following a prosecution by Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards supported by Northamptonshire Police.
At Northampton Crown Court on Monday, April 20, Alan Fitzgerald appeared by video link from HMP Peterborough where he was sentenced in relation to 10 offences he had previously pleaded guilty to. He also asked for a further 24 offences to be taken into consideration.
In early 2014, Fitzgerald was sentenced to a total of six years imprisonment for running a building business that defrauded approximately 40 consumers out of a total of £300,000 by promising to undertake building works, taking payment for the work upfront but then never doing it.
Following his release on licence in early 2019, Fitzgerald began working for a well-known national home improvement business. Fitzgerald’s role was initially limited to canvassing for business over the telephone but he then progressed to cold calling at people’s homes in order to make sales. Fitzgerald realised that he could make more money if he cut the business out and offered to do the work himself. Fitzgerald quoted for work, took payments up front and never undertook or completed the promised work. The financial loss to the victims of these 9 fraud offences was £6600.
In January 2020, Trading Standards and Northamptonshire Police started to receive additional complaints of an identical nature about Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would cold call residents stating that he could complete various building works to their property, take money up front and never complete the work. In some cases, Fitzgerald would accompany the resident to the cash machine so that they were able to pay him immediately. In addition, Fitzgerald stole the car of a 73-year-old victim and this is the additional offence that he had previously pleaded guilty to.
Fitzgerald agreed to have 24 additional Fraud matters taken into consideration with a financial loss to his victims of nearly £14,000.
Of the 34 victims targeted by Fitzgerald, 25 were aged 60 or over or suffering from a mobility or cognitive difficulty.
Judge Lucking also agreed to make a Criminal Behaviour Order for an indefinite period putting severe restrictions on Fitzgerald when he is released from prison. A breach of this CBO is a criminal offence and Fitzgerald would be liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 5 years or to a fine or to both.
Cllr Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for highways and place, said: “It’s great to see another successful prosecution by Trading Standards and the excellent partnership working with Northamptonshire Police, helping to bring unscrupulous traders to account.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in bringing about this prosecution and working towards making Northamptonshire a safer place and one where criminals are deterred.
“Our advice is never to agree to work on the doorstep even if the trader says that it is urgent, but if you do need work done to your property, get quotes from two or three reputable traders and compare them.
“Homeowners can find a Trading Standards approved trader through the national ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
“And always remember that 'If you’re not sure, don’t open the door'.”
Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant, Chris Stevens, of Northamptonshire Police, said: “Alan Fitzgerald is a repeat and prolific offender who preyed on the elderly and the vulnerable in order to mercilessly scam them out of their hard-earned money.
“I am pleased to see him sentenced to a lengthy spell in prison and would like to commend our colleagues at Trading Standards for leading such a comprehensive and robust investigation that finally saw him brought to justice.”