A rogue trader conned an elderly gentleman out of thousands for overpriced garden work, resulting in a 32-month jail sentence following an investigation.

Operating as 'MG Garden and Tree Services', 47-year-old local Michael Gorman inflated costs of garden repairs over six months, before demanding £42,000 for a small patch of artificial grass; a job experts estimate should have cost just under £2,000.

Employed by a 90-year-old Caversham resident in November 2021, Mr Gorman successfully duped the pensioner by promising expertise with no hidden costs, an advertising claim made in the local Round and About magazine.

Beginning with a £900 tree removal without a prior agreed price, receipt or written contract, Gorman continued to increase his prices steadily while delivering more garden services like fence installation and paving, none of which involved any transparent discussion regarding cost nor formal invoices or contracts.

This ended with an artificial grass installation which resulted in a shocking bill hiked up to £42,000, over 1800% more than the original quote of £2,300.

The incident came to light in April 2022, when Gorman’s victim attempted to write a cheque for the outrageous sum.

The cheque wasn't honoured due to insufficient funds, leading to Gorman pressuring the elderly man to decrease the amount to £38,000.

Lloyds Bank raised suspicions upon the presentation of the cheque, triggering bank protocols and leading to an investigation by the Reading Borough Council's Trading Standards Team.

Her Honour Judge Heather Norton emphasised in a January 2024 hearing that Gorman had maliciously taken advantage of a vulnerable elderly man, who lived alone with no family support and suffered from impaired mental capacity.

Describing Gorman’s actions as ‘disgraceful,’ she noted how he utilised the gentleman’s weaknesses for financial exploitation.

This case reached its conclusion on June 14, 2024, when Her Honour Judge Kirsty Real sentenced Gorman to 32 months in prison for three counts of fraud.

Furthermore, Gorman was slammed for the loss of his business and integrity, a wake-up call for the rogue trader who acts as a carer for an older relative.

The victim tragically passed away before Christmas 2023 but Rob Abell, Consumer Protection Group Manager, emphasised the importance of the case.

He praised the Trading Standards team for their effective investigation, noting their success in protecting vulnerable residents from unscamulous traders.

Despite the loss of the victim, justice was served, proving a critical reminder to homeowners about the possible damage rogue traders can inflict.

While vigilance is crucial, those in need of assistance can find a Trading Standards-approved trader on www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.

And for any concerns related to questionable tradesmen or costs, contact consumer.protection@reading.gov.uk or call on 0808 223 1133.