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Proceeds of crime hearing on conspiracy to defraud pair

Posted on Thursday 1st June 2017
James and Jeffrey Tawse

James and Jeffrey Tawse

A proceeds of crime hearing into the case of a father and son jailed for conspiracy to defraud consumers in South Wales has fined the pair more than £200,000.

Following an investigation by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (Wales), Newport City Council had brought the prosecution against 52-year-old Jeffrey Tawse and James Tawse, aged 25. Both men who are from Rumney in Cardiff, pleaded guilty to the charge at Newport Crown Court in July 2016.

In September 2016 Jeffrey Tawse was sentenced to four years in prison and James was given a two-year sentence at Cardiff Crown Court. Jeffrey Tawse also admitted a money laundering offence and was given a further two year sentence to run consecutively.

On Friday, May 19 2017, a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing was held at Cardiff Crown Court where Jeffrey Tawse was ordered to pay £200,000. James Tawse was ordered to pay £1,500.

The National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (Wales) had carried out a two-year investigation into the pair’s activities called Operation Genesis and team leader Andrew Bertie welcomed the sentences and the POCA result.

“We were shocked by what we discovered. The two men used aggressive sales tactics to intimidate elderly and vulnerable people into having work carried out. We found examples of poor standards, overcharging and even work not being carried out.

“Their actions were inexcusable and I am pleased that the sentence recognises the serious impact they had on their victims.”

The two year investigation discovered that between August 2011 and September 2014, the duo claimed to work as representatives of Premier Drives, J&R South West Power Washing, General Landscape Gardening, General Jetwashing Services and Premier Jetwashing Services.

All these “businesses” were unregistered while addresses and contact details supplied to consumers on documentation and invoices were false.

Fifteen people, aged between 50 and 97, were affected across nine council areas – Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthen, Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Torfaen and RCT. Together they lost more than £70,000.

Mr Bertie said: “The Tawses offered to clean and seal driveways and patios as well as apply ‘weed proof’ sand to prevent further growth. Work was supposedly guaranteed for up to five years and consumers were not given any opportunity to cancel.

“However, work was not carried out to the promised standard. In a number of cases, no sand was laid and in others, the sand was washed or blown away as soon as there was adverse weather. Weeds and growth returned within a short time to areas guaranteed to be ‘weed free’ for five years.”

A chartered surveyor who examined the work on behalf of National Trading Standards found that no sealant had been applied at any of the addresses and, in some cases, salt water had been used. His assessment was that the work was of no value.

Mr Bertie gave two examples of particular cases:

  • An 83-year-old woman was charged £1,450 to carry out repairs to her roof. The chartered surveyor could not find evidence that the work had been carried out.
  • In Neath, a disabled man paid £20,000 for a three-course brick wall around his front lawn. The surveyor estimated that if the wall had been built to an accepted industry standard, it should have cost between £600 and £700. He described the standards of workmanship as appalling and recommended it should be demolished.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said: “This sentence sends a clear message that these deliberate attempts to deceive consumers – many of whom were in vulnerable situations – will not be tolerated and I would like to congratulate all those involved in bringing this pair to justice.

“I urge anyone who is suspicious of work being carried out on their home, in their family or in their neighbourhood to contact your local trading standards department or the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.”

Before contracting any type of professional service, consumers are advised to obtain at least two quotes, and wait 24-hours before making a decision on who to proceed with. Word of mouth recommendations from family, friends and neighbours are often a good place to start.

The POCA hearing was told that Jeffrey Tawse had benefitted to the tune of £200,000 from his crimes but had £12,449.33assets available however he was deemed to have hidden assets of £187,550.67.

He was told to pay compensation of £71,520 and ordered to pay £200,000 to the court. Failure to do so in the three month time limit would result in a further two year jail sentence.

James Tawse had benefitted to the sum of £52,297.55 but had £1,500 available and was ordered to pay £1,500 fine, failure to pay back in three months would result in a further sentence of up to six months. He did not have to pay any compensation.                      

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