A COLD-CALLING builder who took advantage of an elderly Wrexham couple by overpricing them for a roofing job has been spared jail.

Lawrence Newbury pressurised his victim, 80-year-old Ian Pilkington, to agree expensive work on his home in Maes Celyn, Coed Y Glyn.

He got the pensioner to wave his right to the standard 14-day cooling off period and as soon as he put pen to paper Newbury instructed workers engaged by his firm Weathershield Ltd to strip off the roof.

But the work was later stopped by Trading Standards officers because no scaffolding was erected on the pensioners’ bungalow and it was then that Newbury’s selling tactics came to light.

Mr Pilkington said in a statement read to Mold Crown Court that the builder’s behaviour had a detrimental effect on his wife, who is affected by dementia. He said she now became apprehensive when “a white van appears in their street”.

Judge Niclas Parry told Newbury, whose 12-month custodial sentence he suspended for 18 months: “This case underlines the importance of controlling cold-calling.

"You saw your chance once you met Mr Pilkington who was elderly and vulnerable.

“You weren’t going to give him the chance to get off the hook and you persuaded him to wave his right to the sensible cooling off period of 14 days.

“Once he signed the men came out from the back of the van and off came the roof.”

The court heard how Newbury pulled up in his van when the pensioner was in his garden and made his pitch, telling him the valets and gutters on his roof needed cleaning and quoted £30.

When the builder inspected the roof and claimed ridge tiles were loose, he said could do the job for £3,800.

But the price of the work rose again when he found holes in the felt and claimed the state of disrepair meant the whole roof needed replacing at a cost of £22,000, which was discounted from an initial quote of £28,000.

Phil Clemo, prosecuting, said a number of experts had provided smaller estimates for the work which was overpriced by around £2,475.

“Mr Pilkington was worried the work needed doing, but the £22,000 was more than he had. But he agreed and as soon as the paper work was signed men came from the van and stripped the roof,” said the barrister.

After the work was stopped Newbury’s van was seized, but he denied targeting the pensioner who found a local firm to complete his roof work.

Newbury, 28, of Meadow View Park, Dragons Lane, Sandbach, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice and one charge of aggressive selling in July 2017.

Defence barrister Barry Edward Grennan stressed to the court that cold-calling was a tactic many roofers used to get business.

“He (Newbury) said Mr Pilkington did seem to know what he was about.

“It just wasn’t the ridge tiles that were a problem, the roof was bowing in three places – it had been done 10 years previously and according to the defendant it wasn’t done properly,” said Mr Grennan, who said Newbury had not gained financially from his high pressure wheeling and dealing.

“He has lost in the region of £4,000 in terms of paying out for materials and his men worked for two-and-a-half days.

“He is a competent builder and if the job had been done it would have been done properly.

"He says this was a roof that was in danger of ultimate collapse.

“It was the biggest job he had got for a long time.”

Mr Grennan added: “He has empathy for Mr Pilkington and he didn’t know his wife was poorly."

Newbury was ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work and told to pay Mr Pilkington £1,000 compensation as well as a £2,500 contribution to court costs.

Judge Parry also placed him under a Criminal Behaviour Order not to undertake any cold-calling when he was drumming up business.