A ROGUE trader whose fraudulent roofing work cost a North Somerset resident a total of £9,500 has been sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Brian Furlong, aged 34 and originally from Salisbury, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court last week after pleading guilty to fraud charges.

This followed an investigation by North Somerset Council’s Trading Standards team.

Mr Furlong carried out gardening work for a Long Ashton resident in January 2022.

During the works, Mr Furlong became aware of a small leak in the property’s porch roof and persuaded the homeowner, who lived alone, that a major roof replacement was needed on her entire bungalow.

He claimed to have access to qualified people who could undertake this job.

However, once the roof work started, Mr Furlong began to pressure the homeowner to pay large sums of money upfront for materials, threatening that the roofers would walk off-site if the money was not paid.

Mr Furlong became increasingly abusive, and at one point threatened to smash all the tiles on the roof if a further payment was not made.

A total of £9,500 was paid to Furlong and his associates.

North Somerset Council's Trading Standards team investigated the case, appointing an expert to inspect the roof and said “the results were shocking”.

Their inspection found the work to be “abysmal … well below the minimum industry standard” and “with little skill and understanding of roofing works.”

In addition, it was the expert’s opinion that the homeowner now faced an additional cost of around £9,000 to rectify the unnecessary and incompetent work that had been carried out.

The report concluded that the original tiles and roof “were in a serviceable and well-maintained condition and did not require replacement and only required some localised repair.”

Mr Furlong also failed to provide the homeowner with information on her legal right to a 14-day cancellation period for a contract made off trade premises.

At a previous hearing in October last year, Furlong pleaded guilty to two charges under the Fraud Act 2006 and two further charges laid under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

During the hearing at Bristol Crown Court last week, His Honour Justice Blair KC sentenced Mr Furlong to a total prison sentence of 42 months.

This included 29 months for two other non-related offences brought by the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Furlong has been on remand since July last year.

His Honour Judge Blair KC, said in relation to the North Somerset case that Mr Furlong’s “conduct was very serious” and that these types of cases “were devastating to the householder”.

Matt Lenny, the council’s director of Public Health and Regulatory Services, said: “This really was a shocking case. The offender used bullying tactics to frighten the victim into paying a large sum for work that was shoddily done and, in fact, almost totally unnecessary.

“This type of crime not only impacts the victim’s finances, but also their mental and physical health.

“Victims in such cases are often elderly and/or living alone and are therefore seen as ‘easy’ targets by unscrupulous rogue traders.

“We won’t tolerate this type of behaviour in North Somerset.

“Where evidence of this type of offending is found, North Somerset Council’s Trading Standards Service will take a robust approach.”

Anyone can report concerns about suspected rogue traders to the Citizen’s Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or by using the online form or chat function at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

The photographs are from the building surveyor's report, showing how bad the roofing job was.