A ROGUE trader previously hit with a £7,000-plus court bill has been back in court and given a criminal behaviour order following an investigation by Dudley trading standards.

Christopher Cole, aged 46, of Brownhills, Walsall, previously pleaded guilty to two offences under the Fraud Act along with four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in 2019 after carrying out shoddy work and falsely claiming to be a FENSA registered installer.

Cole was handed a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours community service and pay more than £7,000 in compensation and costs. But while subject to the suspended prison sentence Cole continued his dishonest dealings, breaching the conditions of his suspended sentence.

Dudley trading standards received a further five complaints which led to a further investigation.

Cole entered a guilty plea for the new matter, a single offence relating to dishonest trading activities, while dealing with five complainants with whom he had contracted to carry out works including the installation of window glazing, doors, and a conservatory.

The court heard he failed to provide his customers with proper quotes or honour their statutory cancellation rights. In every case he demanded deposits or payments up front for materials which were either not delivered or of poor quality. He did not return monies owed and failed to deliver on most jobs.

Where work was undertaken it was of such poor quality that remedial work was required, with Cole’s customers having to foot the additional bills. In some cases, his victims have been unable to cover the costs and are having to live with incomplete and in some cases dangerous works.

Cole appeared on May 24 at Wolverhampton Crown Court where he was sentenced to 23 months imprisonment suspended for two years, with 30 RAR days and 100 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to a victim and £1,000 in costs.

A Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) was granted against Cole for 15 years. CBOs are designed to tackle the most serious and persistent anti-social individuals where their behaviour has brought them before a criminal court. Anyone breaching an order is guilty of a criminal offence. The maximum penalty for this is five years' imprisonment.

Dr Mayada Abuaffan, Dudley's director of public health, said: "We have a dedicated trading standards team that did not stop till all the victims of Christopher Cole received justice.

"Let this be a warning to other traders that should they decide to carry out any fraudulent business practices in the borough, they should expect to be investigated by Dudley trading standards."