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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-11-10

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Rogue trader jailed

A rogue trader, described as "disgusting" by a judge has been sentenced to 2 years in jail after conning people in Warrington and across the North West out of thousands of pounds and also falsely claiming to be donating to charity.

Warrington Borough Council and Wirral Council's trading standards departments took out the prosecution against Christopher James Morris, aged 39, and his company Eco Shield Energy Solutions Ltd. based in Neston; after 2 years of investigations.

Morris, from Springfield Avenue, West Kirby, carried out substandard painting work, lied about the quality of his materials in promotional materials and on his website, refused to return deposits, failed to give cancellation rights which in law consumers were entitled to and falsely claimed to be donating money to Claire House Children's Hospice. The company traded as a painting service, marketing themselves as using a paint product with properties it did not have.

1 of his victims, a woman from Great Sankey in her 80's, said:- "This experience at my age has been very stressful, making me very wary of engaging contractors to undertake any work on my property."

Malcolm Hope, prosecuting on behalf of Warrington and Wirral Borough Councils said:- "This is a case where, at best, profit was put before professionalism and, at worst, there was a deliberate and persistent exploitation of trusting consumers."

Morris pleaded guilty to 11 offences investigated by Warrington trading standards officers under The Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations in relation to misleading actions, misleading omissions, and breaches of professional diligence in relation to failing to return deposits and honour request to cancel contracts. He also pleaded guilty to 24 offences on behalf of the company; he was owner, director and sole shareholder.

Judge Stephen Everett said:- "This was a dishonest operation from beginning to end. It was a con trick and you didn't give two hoots about the victims. You and your employees targeted those who you believed were vulnerable. I have no doubt you knew what was going on."

He also specifically commented that the claims in respect of Claire House on the company flyers was "despicable" telling Morris that:- "People buying your product believed you were donating to the charity. You may well hang your head! This was as disgusting an operation as I have seen in a long, long time."

Morris was sentenced to 2 years in jail with 1 of those to be served on licence. He was disqualified from being a company director for 5 years and paid ?100 victim surcharge.

Cllr Judith Guthrie, executive board member for public protection, said:- "Once again this shows the sterling work being done by our trading standards officers and the joint operation with colleagues from Wirral Borough Council shows what can be achieved with cooperation between agencies. This man deliberately conned Warrington people and is quite rightly facing a jail sentence."

Cllr Bernie Mooney, Wirral Council cabinet member for environment, said:- "Thanks to the evidence provided by victims and the hard work of Trading Standards colleagues from Wirral and Warrington, we've been able to put a stop to Mr Morris' underhand business practices and I believe the custodial sentence shows just how seriously the justice system treats cases such as this."


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