Rogue gardener took £9k from customers

A rogue landscape gardener from Kingswinford took more than £9,000 from two customers for work he never carried out, a court heard.

Pensioner Nina Thompson used a sizeable chunk of inheritance from her late mother to pay Christopher Quaife a deposit of £8,000 to landscape a garden in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Quaife, trading as Waterdrop Landscaping, took the cash in February 2020 but broke promise after promise to either start work or return the cash in the following 18 months.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard in March 2021 Quaife took a further £1,025 from a second victim as a 50 per cent deposit for garden work.

By the time Dudley Trading Standards were called in later that year, Quaife had not repaid a penny to either victim, the court was told.

Quaife, of Bromley Lane, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, when he appeared at court last week to be sentenced.

The 38-year-old had pleaded guilty to fraud at a previous court hearing.

Quaife was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, and a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act will determine how much he has to pay back to the victims and to the court in costs. Councillor Ian Bevan, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said:

“Quaife pocketed thousands of pounds paid up front by customers in good faith.

“He then spun a web of lies and excuses as to why he was not carrying out the work he had been paid to, forcing his victims to almost dedicate their lives to chasing him up and trying to bring him to task.

“In these situations our trading standards team have a proven track record of carrying out sound and thorough investigations to bring people like Quaife to court.

“I hope it acts as a warning to other rogue traders out there that we take these matters extremely seriously.”

Dudley Council runs the Fix-A-Home scheme which carries a list of reputable tradespeople to carry out maintenance in homes.

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