Rogue tree surgery trio sentenced to six years

A gang who repeatedly took money from a pensioner for substandard work including tree surgery has been jailed for total of six years.

The trio of Patrick Duffy and father and son Bernard and Barney repeatedly urged the 70-year-old Harrogate man to have work done including having the trees in his garden lopped, his drive resurfaced, his conservatory cleaned and roof mended.

Each time they drove to man to a cashpoint in order for him to withdraw cash to pay for the work. Bernard Collins also fraudulently claimed £170 in "VAT" from the victim.

An arboriculturist who examined the tree work found it to be "poor and incomplete", while the driveway required remedial work valued at £850. The gang also left the cuttings in the man's garden.

Each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, but Duffy failed to attend court for sentencing. Following his arrest earlier this month, he has now been sentenced to 22 months imprisonment.

Bernard Collins was sentenced to 42 months last July, with Barney Collins sentenced to 10 months.

Welcoming the decision, County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for North Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: "We are pleased to see that the court has recognised the aggravated nature of these offences and hope that this sends a message that this sort of offending will not be tolerated."

Meanwhile Dorset Police has warned the public against engaging rogue tree surgeons in the wake of storm damage to the county's trees.

A representative said: "This is the time of year when 'rogue traders' may take advantage of those unfortunate enough to have suffered damage to their homes and gardens."

He recommended using the Buy With Confidence scheme, checking the Arboricultural Association's approved contractors listed on its website.

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