A gardener who defrauded an 89-year-old woman of thousands of pounds has been given a suspended prison sentence.
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said Leonardus Nicolaas Koymans Jr, of Ashurst Way in East Preston, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court and was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for 24 months.
Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “Defrauding a vulnerable, elderly person is a despicable offence and I am grateful to our Trading Standards team for bringing this individual to justice.”
The council spokesman said Koymans was operating as Leo Garden Services Limited when he approached his victim’s home in Angmering and offered to fix her roof.
He said that work recently carried out on her property by another company was sub-standard and he could repair it.
He also claimed to have cancer to further gain her sympathy.
The victim was overcharged for the work by £3,000, said the spokesman, paying £18,000 in total.
Koymans was ordered to pay £3,000 in compensation within six months, following an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards.
Richard Sargeant, Trading Standards team manager, said it was important for people to employ reputable traders.
“If you are considering having work done, I urge you to choose a Buy With Confidence approved business as you can feel confident that our teams have vetted and approved them,” he said.
“You can report an unscrupulous business to Trading Standards online www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport or by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.”
Customers can find approved traders at www.westsussex.gov.uk/business-and-consumers/trading-standards-information-for-consumers/approved-traders/find-an-approved-trader/