Jailed rogue trader to repay £150k to driveway victims
A rogue tradesman who made almost £1m from conning elderly people into having botched driveways laid has been ordered to pay £150,000 to his victims.
Allan Coutts, 60, was jailed for five-and-a-half years in August 2018 for defrauding his victims out of between £600 and £7,000 each.
He bought a Highways Authority lorry and targeted people across the UK.
Cardiff Crown Court heard his jail term would be increased by two years if Coutts, of Berkshire, failed to repay.
Coutts ran a company which cold-called vulnerable and elderly householders and promised a five-year guarantee on his work.
He would tell his victims - who had an average age of 75 - there was material left over on his lorry and he could offer a deal on driveway work before it hardened.
But the work would often crumble in weeks - and Coutts would not return to finish the driveways to an acceptable standard.
A National Trading Standards investigation found £600,000 of cash and card payments had been made to him in just over a year.
The court heard Coutts made £905,000 in a 14-month period from February 2015 from his fraudulent activities.
'It was a big con'
Within hours of Geoffrey Whitaker agreeing to have his drive resurfaced by a door-to-door salesman, a truck turned up to start work.
The 81-year-old from Hay-on-Wye was not particularly interested in having work done but the salesman was "quite persistent".
The sales pitch was their firm had surplus tarmac left over from relaying roads and drives near his home in Powys - and Mr Whitaker agreed to pay £2,000 to have the work done.
But he and his wife Kathleen were unhappy with the job and called Powys trading standards.
They then discovered Allan Coutts had duped hundreds of elderly people across the UK.
"I don't know how people can do it," said Mr Whitaker. "It's terrible, disgraceful.
"He convinced us he did lots of work around here and they would do a first-class job. He took us to show what work he was doing locally.
"It was a big con. The signs on those jobs didn't belong to them."
The case against Coutts was brought by Powys County Council's trading standards officers and he was found guilty of fraud at Merthyr Crown Court.
Judge Richard Twomlow told Coutts on Friday that if he failed to pay the money back within three months, he would have two years added to his existing sentence.
He also told the proceeds of crime hearing in Cardiff that any money recovered will go back to the his victims - 10 of them in rural Powys.