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Prison sentences for £2.4M roof coating scammers

At Worcester Crown Court yesterday company director Phillip Christopher Twose (59) and salesman John Colin Gumbrell (52) both of Newlook Roof Coatings Ltd based in Monmouth, were each sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for rogue trading offences.

In a case taken by Herefordshire Council’s trading standards service, prosecuting barrister Tim Moores told the court the company had, since September 2009, cold called victims who were predominantly elderly and vulnerable and coerced them into signing contracts for wholly unnecessary work that involved applying roof coatings The company stated that the moss found on the roof would destroy it and it would require a whole new replacement at an exorbitant cost.  In addition, they charged far in excess of what a reasonable price should be by deceiving consumers with false show home discounts taken off outrageously high starting prices for the work.

Further illegal practices uncovered were, salesman Mr Gumbrell falsely calling himself a surveyor when he had no qualifications to do so and pressuring consumers by saying the discounted price was only available that day. For the 16 month period covered by the charges, it is estimated that the company made a staggering £1.7 million and in a two year period ending in December 2011, over £2.4 million until Trading Standards and West Mercia Police from Hereford raided their Monmouth offices.

Defence counsel Mr Taylor claimed the company director, Mr Twose, was an ex-South Wales police officer who was injured in the line of duty and subsequently retired for the force. He claimed Newlook Roof Coatings was not a cowboy company and that the work did have value. He also claimed Twose had followed advice from his local Trading Standards in Monmouthshire.  Mr Kolodynski, defending John Gumbrell, claimed his client had not acted dishonestly and the roof coating did increase the lifespan of the tiles.

Recorder Mr Redgrave QC sentencing told both defendants “Your motive behind the offences was to extract as much money as possible from the public. The methods adopted are not unfamiliar- cold calling and misrepresenting the need for the remedial work to the roof. Whether or not the elderly were targeted- many were indeed elderly. The sales pitch began with an alarmingly high price, then with a series of so called discounts the price was reduced by order of two thirds.  You are not the first nor will you be the last to employ these tactics. Part of the reason for these sentences is the hope that others will be discouraged. Your conduct caused loss to some, anxiety for many and gives rise to indignation on the part of the public at large.”

After the hearing, Herefordshire Council’s head of consumer and business protection, Mike Pigrem, said: “This is the biggest and most disturbing rogue trader investigation we have ever undertaken. There were over 500 potential victims. I believe this is a landmark case exposing the ‘roof coating scam’ which has taken hold in the UK over the last decade. The custodial sentences imposed send out a strong message to the large number of other companies out there who also cold call for roof coating work - to-stop, or you too may find yourself before the courts. In our opinion there is no doubt that moss causes no damage what so ever to tiles and the roof coating process is a wholly unnecessary treatment.  If anyone is worried about the condition of their roof then they should contact a reputable roofing contractor from Herefordshire Council’s Trader Register at www.traderregister/herefordshire