A 77-year-old rogue builder has been spared jail after carrying out a cold-calling campaign on elderly victims who he conned out of several thousands of pounds.
Thomas Gumble, of Strathdon Drive, Tooting, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Croydon Crown Court on Tuesday, 24 February.
He was also given a criminal behaviour order, which prevents Gumble from cold-calling or carrying out any unsolicited building work anywhere in England or Wales.
This is the first time a criminal behaviour order has been granted in London specifically for a trading standards investigation.
Gumble, who traded as TG Gardening, had pleaded guilty to a series of fraud offences relating to the door stepping of elderly victims in the Norbury and Thornton Heath areas.
He would offer to carry out building work for extortionate amounts of money.
In one case, Gumble regularly cold called an 89-year-old widow over a seven year period, duping her into making some 26 payments amounting to more than £26,000.
Another paid him £8,000 for two garden beds to be filled with concrete while one lady was charged £3,000 for roofing work.
Confiscation proceedings have been launched against Gumble, which will examine his assets to see what he gained as a result of his criminal activity.
“I’d like to praise our excellent trading standards officers for successfully prosecuting this case.
“Gumble preyed on some of our borough’s most vulnerable residents and he has finally been brought to justice.
“These were despicable and callous crimes which as the judge said, would have resulted in a custodial sentence had it not been for Gumble’s medical condition.
“We’d like to remind residents to always get a recommendation from a trusted source, such as www.trustmark.org.uk, when looking for reputable traders. Equally we’d appeal to people to look out for their elderly relatives or neighbours to protect them from rogue traders.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council