Rogue gardener admits charges at court

A man who bullied elderly homeowners in Redruth and Wadebridge into having gardening work undertaken has been convicted of six offences, including two charges of aggressive practice, after an investigation by Cornwall Council Trading Standards.

John Paul Newbury, 33, trading as ‘J&J Tree Services’ from Little Acres, Dolbeare, Ashburton, near Newton Abbot, appeared before Bodmin Magistrates Court on Thursday, February 7, and admitted six charges. He was ordered to pay fines, prosecution costs and compensation totalling almost £2,000.

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The court heard that the Trading Standards investigation was triggered by two incidents last summer.

On 27 July a woman in her seventies was picking up grass clippings from her garden in Redruth when a white pick-up van pulled up and Newbury approached her and began to pick up the grass clippings himself, stating that he would help her with the task. He then charged her £60 before taking items from her garden shed.

The second incident took place on 1 August 2018 when a Wadebridge couple in their eighties received an unsolicited call at their home. When the husband answered the door he was met by Newbury who asked if there was any work they wanted done in the garden specifically referencing a tree in the back garden.

He returned to the couple’s home a second time and pressured them into having work done charging them £90. When the couple were using a cash machine to get the money a concerned neighbour called the police. The officers attended and were able to prevent the money being paid.

Cornwall Councillor Sue James, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, welcomed the conviction: “This was despicable behaviour, targeted at older people trying to enjoy an independent life in their own homes. While the sums involved this time may not be large, the impact of this sort of crime on people can be devastating.

“I applaud the actions of the concerned neighbour in reporting the matter and I am pleased to see how well the Council’s Trading Standards officers work with colleagues in Devon and Cornwall Police.

“But these incidents do illustrate our warning – never deal with anyone who turns up at your home without an invitation, no matter how convincing or demanding they may be. And, if you feel threatened by a cold caller phone the police straight away.”

Posted on 13 February