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Rogue tree surgeons convicted of harassing consumer

Two rogue tree surgeons who harassed a North Yorkshire resident into paying for unauthorised gardening work have been convicted at York Crown Court today following a successful prosecution by North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards officers.

Stenie Wilson and Frank Foy Lowther, both of Long Street, Thirsk, were found guilty at York Crown Court of two offences of engaging in aggressive trading practices.

The court heard that Lowther and Wilson knocked at the door of a Scarborough resident in November 2010, offering to provide a written quote for gardening work.

The man, who had just finished a night shift, agreed to this and closed the door to return to sleep. When he heard a noise like a chainsaw several minutes later, he got up to investigate. He found the two men in his rear garden chopping down trees.

The resident had not authorised the work and was further perturbed when the men then asked for payment. Lowther became insistent that payment was made and that the victim should go to the bank to obtain £1,800 to pay them.

The two men then accompanied him to the bank, where he withdrew £750. They then told him they would return for the rest of the money. The victim was so upset and frightened by what had happened that he reported the matter to the police, who then informed trading standards.

Three days later, the traders returned to the property. The victim did not answer the door, but waited for the men to leave before he went to report the matter again to the police.

Having visited the police station, the victim returned to his car in Scarborough town centre. He was then approached by the traders again who wanted him to go to the bank to get further payment for them. He to the bank, with the traders following him and reported the men to the police for a third time.

Both men were ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, and each was ordered to pay £375 compensation to the victim.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for Trading Standards said:

These men carried out work that the man hadn’t even agreed to. They then insisted on payment in an intimidating and aggressive manner, even going so far as to accompany him to the bank. They then approached him again on a separate occasion demanding further payment. These are not the acts of genuine traders and these aggressive and intimidating trading practices will not be tolerated in North Yorkshire.

Regulation 11 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 creates an offence for a trader who engages in a commercial practice which is aggressive.

Regulation 7 further defines an “aggressive commercial practice” as one which significantly impairs a consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence. In determining whether a practice is aggressive account is taken of factors such as the timing, location, nature or persistence, and the use of threatening or abusive language or behaviour.


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