Rogue trader tells victim: 'I'll knock your lights out'
- Credit: NCC
Rogue trader Wesley Theobald told a victim from March who confronted him at his home that he would “knock her lights out,” a court heard.
King’s Lynn Crown Court heard on Thursday that Theobald, who failed to declare that he was an undischarged bankrupt, took deposits, exaggerated work needed and left jobs half-done, refusing to return money when his customers complained.
In August 2018, Theobald quoted the March woman £7,620 for work if paid by bank transfer or £6,350 in cash. Then the price increased to £8,220 or £6,850 respectively.
She paid £3,700 over two instalments and the work started slowly.
Theobald asked for a further £350 but she refused and became “increasingly concerned” about the amount she had paid, said prosecutor Jamie Sawyer.
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She went to his home and was threatened with violence if she didn’t get off his drive.
She didn’t get any of the money back and paid £6,418 in remedial work, the court was told.
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In total Theobald took almost £30,000 from victims for jobs he never started or didn’t complete.
He was jailed for three years after targeting a large number of victims spread over a wide area including Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and London.
The roof repairs and home improvements were often defective, leaving some customers with many thousands of pounds in remedial costs.
The hearing was told of nine separate cases in which Theobald, 30, had responded to tenders for work, mainly on website Rated People.
Theobald, of Seathwaite Road, King’s Lynn, had been committed for sentence on two matters.
At earlier hearings he had pleaded guilty to carrying on a business for fraudulent purposes between 2017 and 2020 – a prosecution brought by Norfolk County Council’s trading standards department.
And, in an unrelated matter, caused actual bodily harm to Dale Massingham during an assault in Lynn pub The Eagle.
The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered a nasty head injury when a single punch from Theobald caused him to hit his head on a step to the dance floor, on February 21, 2020.
Recorder Oliver Sells QC told Theobald: “In the course of conduct, which can only be described as thoroughly dishonest over a long period of time and over a large area from London to Norfolk, you took advantage of members of the public by pretending to do building work on their houses.
“You caused further work to be done and further expenses to be incurred. You extracted nearly £30,000 from people who effectively were at your mercy.
“Your conduct can only be described as despicable.
“You also carried out a wholly unprovoked attack on another man in a public house.”
In mitigation, Benedict Pears said Theobald had suffered from poor mental health for a number of years.
“Whether that mental health has been exacerbated by drink or drug abuse is unclear,” he added.
Mr Pears said his client, who struggled with finances and acted “impulsively”, had set himself up as a sole trader after losing his job with Smith Building Services but had not done so in order to defraud people.
The court was that Theobald received a suspended sentence for using a credit card belonging to the Lynn firm after his employment had finished. That eight-week sentence was activated on Thursday and will run concurrently with the three years’ custody for the other matters.
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, welcomed the sentence.
She said: “The defendant had no choice but to plead guilty due to the strong clear case put together by our dedicated trading standards team.
“This rogue builder’s fraudulent activities over a period of time fell far short of what is expected of a professional trader and cost his victims thousands of pounds through his incomplete and substandard work.”
Confiscation proceedings, under proceeds of crime legislation, will follow and will include consideration of compensation for victims, as well as for the costs of the investigation.