Rogue County Durham roofer inflated price of repairs

A ROGUE roofer who pressured an elderly householder to make an over the top payment for repairs at his home has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Previously jailed offender Lawrence Crossling was told it seems he might now be, “turning the page on his criminal activity”, as the latest offense for which he answered place three years ago, since when it appears he has remained trouble free.

Crossling, 39, of Sevenacres Farm, Shotton Colliery, appeared at Durham Crown Court for sentence after admitting charges of making false representation to make gain for himself and breaching a criminal behavior order, but his guilty pleas were only made on the day his recent trial began.

The criminal behavior order was put in place in 2017 when Crossling was jailed for six months and ordered to pay £1,770 to a previous customer for shoddy work at her home in Horden, County Durham.

Read more: Darlington roofer to pay £6,000 after carrying out shoddy work

He admitted five consumer protection charges and was made subject to a three-year ban from cold calling at residential properties in the County Durham area for the purposes of selling goods or services, except by prior appointment with the controller or occupier.

It required him to provide pre-contractual information to any customer, with details of his name, business address and contract details.

His latest offending involved work performed on the roof of an 84-year-old man’s home in Wheatley Hill, County Durham, in 2019.

Having agreed an initial charge of £120, the price was inflated to £810 for “extra work” he told the householder needed doing on the roof.

Rebecca Brown, prosecuting, said Crossling, who carried out the work with two unknown accomplices, refused to accept a check and so the complainant had to go to his bank to withdraw the money.

Even then, Crossling tried to inflate the figure further by suggestion other additional work needed doing, but the resident said he could not afford to may any more.

The householder felt he had been scammed and contacted his daughter, who did research on the internet and could find no details of Tyne Tees Roofing, the company Crossling claimed to be operating for, so she contacted police.

Crossling had been due to return to the victim’s property at 11am the following day, and police were waiting, but he did not arrive at the allotted time and when he turned up later, officers had left.

It was only when a photograph of the defendant was presented to the victim, that he recognized the defendant as the roof ‘repairer’ and it led to police tracing and arresting him on May 31, 2020.

The defendant was subsequently picked out on a video identity parade by the scammed householder.

Miss Brown said a chartered surveyor examined the work carried out by Crossling and his colleagues.

She said the survey concluded that little work had been done and was of a poor standard, some of it classified as “unfit for purpose” or unnecessary.

When interviewed, Crossling told police he worked for Tyne Tees Roofing, but refused to identify his accomplices or who owned the company.

He claimed he was unable to remember working on the house in question.

Miss Brown said the victim believed he had been targeted because of his age.

The court was told Crossling has 53 previous convictions, including some of a similar nature.

Helen Towers, for Crossling, provided references to the court on her client’s behalf from another customer.

She said in this case it was not a case of “deliberately targeting” an elderly householder at the outset, but she added that the defendant is prepared to pay compensation to the man left out of pocket.

Read more: Police warn North East homeowners of ‘bogus builders’ in storm aftermath

Judge Ray Singh said it would have been obvious once Crossling spoke to the resident that he was an elderly man.

But he said the offense was three years ago and the defendant has now completed his post sentence supervision from the past offense.

“It may well be you are turning the page on your criminal activities.”

He passed a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years, during which Crossling must attend 15 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service, perform 240 hours’ unpaid work and pay the victim the full £810 charged.

Crossling must also pay £690 towards the costs of the case, leaving his final court bill at £1,500, to be paid at £200 per month.

Read next:

* Fraudster jailed for conning people into unfit roof repairs

* Bishop Auckland teenage builder fined for ‘dodgy’ repair on Crook property

* Roof repair fund

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