A ROGUE trader who swindled people out of thousands of pounds by failing to do contracted home improvement work has been jailed for three and three-quarter years.

Martin Evans, aged 48, of Penperlleni, Monmouthshire was sentenced  at Cardiff Crown Court to 45 months imprisonment for seven offences under the Fraud Act 2006; and 12 months imprisonment for one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, to run concurrently.

He was taken into custody immediately and will serve half his sentence before being considered eligible for parole. 

The prosecution was brought by Monmouthshire County Council’s Trading Standards Department following a lengthy cross-border investigation involving multiple households with victims based in Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, Caerphilly and North Somerset. 

Evans traded under both his own name and the business name Ace Garden Spaces, engaging in contracts for significant home improvements works including high quality garden rooms, new kitchens, roofing, and substantive home renovations.

Significant deposits, of up to £10,000 were requested and whilst work would commence, attendance would quickly grind to a halt leaving victims with unfinished and poor-quality work they then needed to rectify and/or complete. 

In one instance a victim paid over £20,000 to Evans, but when the work was assessed as part of the investigation it was valued as only being worth £1,200, with some areas being of such poor quality it would need to be completely re-done.

In another instance a skylight was secured with what appeared to be mastic sealant and consequently blew off in high winds smashing against another garden building, although thankfully no one was injured.

Multiple victims successfully sued Evans but were unable to recover any monies they’d paid him. 

Evans attributed the issues to health conditions which were acknowledged as part of the Trading Standards investigation.

But whilst it was blamed for his non-attendance it did not prevent him generating further business and taking further deposits. 

Evans was sentenced following an earlier hearing in 2023 where he pled guilty to the eight offences.

Evans has a previous conviction from 2017 following a prosecution by Herefordshire Trading Standards for eight offences under the Fraud Act 2006 when he received a sentence of two years imprisonment suspended for two years and 260 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months. 

The judge, Mr Recorder Hammond said:  “What lies behind it is a truly appalling story of greed, exploitation and human suffering...

“This was a case involving high culpability and high impact...

“Customers were abandoned and tried to encourage, cajole or beg you – you often claimed to be ill when working on a different customer’s job.” 

Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cllr. Sara Burch commented: “This was a complex case to investigate and the judge’s sentence highlights not only the incredibly serious nature of his crimes but also Evans’ selfish disregard for his victims.

“He has not just left their homes in a mess but seen them financially out of pocket. Not only did he take their money but they were then forced to employ other competent traders to finish the work he failed to complete. 

“This case underlines why the work of our Trading Standards team is so important to protect residents of Monmouthshire.

“ I would like to thank our trading standards officers, for bringing this individual to justice. I hope that this case acts as a deterrent to any other builder who targets and defrauds residents in this way.

“The council will pursue you through the courts and ensure that you are prosecuted. 

“I’d urge anyone who is considering having work carried out on their property to do some detailed research first. Ensure the trader has a geographical address and provides paperwork, including a cancellation notice if the contract was formed away from the trader’s premises.” 

Trading Standards recommend that people take up references for contractors where able, ask for a detailed estimate, copies of the contractor’s public liability insurance, a written contract and for larger works employ a qualified surveyor or architect. 

For most people, their home is their largest investment and you should always ensure that works are carried out by qualified, reputable, insured contractors and checked by Building Control.

If possible, pay for goods and services costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 on a credit card so you are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if things go wrong. 

Suspected rogue traders can be reported to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice by calling 0808 223 1133 or visiting Contact the consumer helpline - Citizens Advice