A ROGUE gardener from Kingswinford has been ordered to repay more than £10,000 to customers after he failed to start work on their home.

Christopher Quaife who traded as Waterdrop Landscaping was previously sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, after he pleaded guilty to fraud at Wolverhampton Crown Court last year following an investigation by Dudley Council’s trading standards.

The investigation found that in two separate cases Quaife had taken money upfront for gardening work, which he failed to complete.

One customer, pensioner Nina Thompson, paid a deposit of £8,000 - using a sizable chunk of inheritance from her late mother in a bid to landscape a garden in Pembrokeshire, Wales; while another customer shelled out £1,025.

When Quaife, of Bromley Lane, was sentenced last year, he was advised that Dudley trading standards would carry out a financial investigation into his assets.

At a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court last week, officers confirmed Quaife’s benefit from criminal conduct was £10,739.25 and they had managed to trace assets totalling £14,660.03.

The court made an order that £10,739.25 be paid as compensation to the victims, payable by August this year.

If Quaife fails to pay, he could face a default six-month prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay £3920.78 in costs.

Councillor James Clinton, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “Following a further investigation, we have been able to trace assets, which can be used following the decision in court, to repay the victims and ensure they are not left out of pocket.

“This sends a clear message that will do all we can to get justice for people who have suffered at the hands of rogue traders. If anyone thinks they have been targeted by a rogue trader, I’d urge them to get in touch.”