Rogue traders convicted for roofing works scam

14 May 2024

A father-son duo who attempted to scam a Southwark resident out of £18,000 for unnecessary roofing works have been convicted of fraud and unfair trading offences.

In an investigation led by Southwark Council, Surrey based roofing contractor James Robert Hearne Junior (25) and his father James Robert Hearne Senior (45) were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on 10 May 2024.

Hearne Senior was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment (suspended for 2 years), 150 hours of unpaid work, 10 hours rehabilitation, £3000 compensation, and £1000 costs. Plus a victim surcharge of £100.

Hearne Junior was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment (suspended for 2 years), 200 hours of unpaid work, 20 hours of rehabilitation, £3000 compensation to the victim, and £1,000 costs. Plus a victim surcharge of £100.

Southwark Council first became aware of the criminality in December 2021 after staff at the resident’s bank blocked a £4,000 transfer to the roofer in accordance with banking safeguarding policies.

As part of the investigation, trading standards officers learned that Herne Senior’s firm, T&H Roofcare Limited, was originally contracted to carry out guttering work at a property in Dulwich but the job was swiftly passed to the son’s firm, Drytech Roofing Contractors Limited, and advised that a new roof would be needed.

Soon after, Hearne Junior’s team began to strip tiles off the roof without the homeowner’s consent and a cost of £16,000 was demanded without information about cancellation rights, as required by law. The next day Hearne Junior claimed “the beams need to be stabilised with noggins” and added another £2,000 to the bill.

With a large section of roof tiles now missing the homeowner was pressured to pay a £4,000 deposit but when the transfer was declined, Herne Junior increased the quote to £14,000 for the front of the house only.

Following a period of intimidation, the police were called and Southwark’s Trading Standards subsequently intervened.

An independent surveyor’s report confirmed there was nothing wrong with the roof originally and that the work carried out by Herne was “abysmal and worthless” and Hearne Junior’s statement about beams was “complete nonsense”. No guttering work had been done either. The report concluded it would cost some £6,000 to repair the roof.

The victim impact statement described the Hearne’s persuasion tactics as “heavy handed, bullying, gas lighting and coercive control”.

Councillor Natasha Ennin, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Southwark Council said: “It’s important to exercise caution when getting home improvement works done. Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in rogue traders operating locally so we all need to remain vigilant and do the necessary homework to avoid falling foul of unscrupulous criminals.

“Our advice to homeowners would be to avoid dropstep cold-callers and mass leaflet drops. Instead opt for traders personally recommended by friends, family or neighbours. Failing that, it’s a good idea to use a recommended trader scheme backed by trading standards team.

Page last updated: 14 May 2024

Privacy settings