|A fraudulent roofer has been jailed for the second time for ripping off retired victims in Lancashire.|
|Following action by Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, Steven Lee Jr., 37, of Rosemary Lane in Bartle, Preston, was sentenced to 14 months in prison at Preston Crown Court on Friday 10th February.
The 37 year old admitted offences committed between 2021 and 2022 after being released on licence from a 40-month prison sentence imposed for similar offences in 2018.
He preyed on his victims by falsely claiming his business, Elite Roofing, was a ‘Buy With Confidence – Trading Standards Approved Trader’ and falsely introduced himself as Leigh Boswell.
His victims, the owners of a dormer bungalow in Leyland, had asked him to look at a small leak around the chimney, after advertising for a roofer on their local Facebook group. The court was told that Lee used a false name to prevent his victims finding out about his previous convictions on the internet.
Work began in February 2021 and, over the course of the following year, Lee and his men replaced every part of the roof on the property – sometimes more than once – eventually charging a total of £29,840.
But when Lancashire Trading Standards instructed a building inspector to look at the victims’ roof, he reported that the work had been utterly unnecessary and would have to be completely re-done by a competent roofer, leaving the homeowners facing a further bill of £12-14,000 to put everything right.
Lee and his men left a trail of devastation. Leaks sprang up everywhere, ruining all of the upstairs ceilings and causing rainwater to pour down through light fittings. Lead flashing was removed and replaced with a type of tape used for temporary repairs. Roof tiles with an expected remaining life of at least 25 years were replaced after Lee convinced the homeowners that they would be good for only a few years more.
The 64-year-old victim and her husband, who was recovering from heart bypass surgery, were even left to clear up rubbish left strewn about the property.
Shockingly, the original leak had not even been properly repaired – a job that the building inspector said would only have taken two hours for a competent roofer to carry out.
The court heard that, throughout their year-long ordeal, the victims repeatedly begged Lee to come back and fix the leaks, only to be fobbed off with a series of excuses. When he did come out, Lee told the victims the problems were not his fault and often persuaded them to have even more work carried out.
In a victim statement, read to the court, the homeowner described herself as being embarrassed and upset by the way her home had been left. She even described how a passing roofer had knocked at her door to tell her how bad the work was and offer her advice.
Sentencing Steven Lee Jr, His Honour Judge Richard Archer described him as the “very definition of a rogue trader” and described how he had subjected his victims to “bill after bill for unnecessary and botched work”.
He told Lee that his actions had been “deliberate and intentional and had left his victims in an awful position, causing them significant financial and emotional harm”.
In addition to his prison sentence, a Criminal Behaviour Order preventing Lee from carrying out work on domestic properties was imposed for eight years.
Separate proceedings to deal with compensation and legal costs were adjourned.
County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Steven Lee Jr is well known to Trading Standards in Lancashire and beyond.
“His previous convictions, including a lengthy prison sentence in 2018, appear to have had no effect on him offending again after being released. He now faces a court order banning him from involvement in this kind of work until 2031.
“I was saddened to hear about how this fraudulent roofer had taken advantage of vulnerable residents.
“We would always urge consumers to be careful about who they appoint to do work at their home and, if in doubt, ask a second trader for a quote to ensure that the prices are similar. Please ensure that you use recommended firms, such as those listed on our Lancashire Safe Trader website.”