St Neots man took money for landscaping jobs knowing he could not finish the work

Cambridge Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Cambridge Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A rogue trader took almost £15,000 in payments from customers for work he did not complete.

Phil Cooper, 33, owned and operated Cooper and Son’s Landscaping when the offences began in June last year in the St Neots area.

Cooper accepted work from three of his victims, despite knowing he did not have the capacity to finish the landscaping he had promised.

As time went on he continued to add to the agreed price, driving the cost of each job higher until the customers began to complain.

He insisted the work would eventually be completed, but refused to provide invoices to justify the growing budget he demanded for the work.

He then took on another client, accepted a deposit of £450, then ignored her and refused to speak to her again.

The victim called police, who launched an investigation which led to the three aforementioned offences being identified.

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In an interview with police, Cooper claimed he had spent a large portion of the victims’ payments on child maintenance debt and bailiff costs.

Cooper, of Bedford Street, St Neots, admitted four counts of fraud by false representation at Cambridge Crown Court on June 22.

He was sentenced to 20 weeks’ in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

PC Emily Heriot said: “Cooper repeatedly abused the trust of his victims for his own financial gain.

“I would like to applaud the victims who came forward to support the investigation. I hope this prosecution will make other potential rogue traders think twice before they commit fraud.”