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‘Handyman’ took money from elderly victims but failed to do any work

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A ‘HANDYMAN’ who took money from two elderly couples but never turned up to do any work has admitted a series of unfair trading charges.

Denzil Michael Thomas – also known as Mick Thomas – took deposits for the work before firing off a host of excuses and ignoring calls and questions from the victims.

Thomas appeared before magistrates in Haverfordwest on January 13 and pleaded guilty to five offences under the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 following an investigation by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team.

Magistrates heard that this was Thomas’ fourth appearance in court for breaching consumer protection law.

The first couple contacted Thomas after seeing an advert for ‘Branching Out Garden Services’ in a local shop.

Thomas, of St Mark’s Close, Merlins Bridge, visited and agreed to carry out work totalling £460.

The victims asked for a copy of the contract but it never materialised.

Thomas asked for half of the money up front to purchase materials but had to settle for £70 which was all the couple had.

Thomas then failed to return to complete the work – giving the victims a series of excuses claiming he was waiting for materials, his van had broken down and that a workmate could not accompany him ‘due to social distancing’.

The couple then contacted Thomas to cancel and asked for the £70 to be refunded.

Despite numerous phone calls and promises, the money was never refunded. The victims even offered to drive to his home to collect the money.

At various times Thomas told them he lived at Eglwyswrw and then at Llangoedmor.

The second complainants contacted Thomas about replacing a short length of wooden fence using wire and metal posts that had already been purchased.

Thomas gave a verbal estimate of £900 and said he would need a payment of £280 to start work the following week.

A cheque was written and cashed but no paperwork was handed over.

Thomas did not return and stated the work would begin the following week.

A ‘self-isolation period due to Covid’ followed and when the complainant opted for a refund Thomas claimed a family member would draw the money out and arrange to meet the couple to hand it over.

Thomas said he wanted to do it that way rather than posting the cash as he wanted a receipt.

Thomas phoned the complainant to say his son would phone him to drop off the money shortly but nothing further was heard from him

Thomas admitted:

  • two offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence (one for each couple),
  • two offences of making a misleading omission of failing to provide a contract with material information that he has a duty to provide, including details of the contract, the address and contact details of the business and the consumer right to a 14 day cooling off period (one for each couple)
  • one offence of making a  misleading claim as to the geographical or commercial origin of the business.

Magistrates sentenced Thomas to 36 months conditional discharge and ordered him to pay compensation of £70 to the first complainants and £280 to the second complainants.

Thomas must also pay £750 towards the Council’s costs and a victim surcharge of £22.

Sandra McSparron, Pembrokeshire County Council Lead Trading Standards Officer, said: “It is disappointing that despite being previously advised of the legal requirements for doorstep agreements, Mr Thomas knowingly failed to provide consumers with the required paperwork.

“He was quick to call out and take deposits yet giving a refund proved much more difficult.

“He misled these consumers as to the whereabouts of his business to evade any chance of redress and gave them false hope that he would initially refund their money using a smokescreen of excuses.

“I am always grateful to consumers who report instances of doorstep crime.”

News

Two arrests in Haverfordwest after reports of man in possession of a knife

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THERE was a large police response following 999 calls made in Haverfordwest last night to reports of an affray involving an offensive weapon.

Multiple police units descended on Fleming Crescent just before nine o’clock on Thursday (May 19).

Two people were taken into police custody, where they remain, police confirmed.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We were called to a disturbance and reports of a man in possession of a knife in Fleming Crescent, Haverfordwest, at around 8.50pm on Thursday, 19 May.

“A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon, while a 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray.

“Both remain in police custody.”

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Business

Grape expectations for Welsh Wine Week 2022

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THIS JUNE, Welsh vineyards will welcome guests from Wales and beyond to taste what Wales’ burgeoning wine sector has to offer during its annual Welsh Wine Week.

From Saturday 4th to Sunday 12th June, free events, competitions, expert guided tours and tastings will make up the Welsh Wine Week schedule and give wine lovers the chance to personally discover the country’s picturesque vineyards and sample their wide range of award-winning vintages.

Special product releases will take place during Welsh Wine Week to commemorate the event, including Pembrokeshire’s Velfrey Vineyard’s Cuvée Reserve Sparkling Brut, a 2019 vintage traditional method sparkling brut wine, made especially from the vineyard’s Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes.

Confirmed events for Welsh Wine Week 2022 include: a cheese and Welsh wine sampling event from Gwinllan Conwy (in collaboration with Bodnant Welsh Food), White Castle Vineyard will be holding a tasting of their wines with Fine Wines Direct and there will be free vineyard tours and wine tastings across the week from Parva Farm vineyard.

Andy Mounsey, owner of Velfrey Vineyard and Chairman of the Welsh Vineyard Association, said: “Whether you relish in a red, white, rosé or sparkling wine, Welsh Wine Week is the perfect opportunity to show consumers what the Welsh wine industry has to offer.

“Wales is making strides in its wine production and has proudly adopted an innovative approach in which its experimental and diverse with the wine it produces. Wine producers are working collaboratively to drive the industry forward and championing each other, creating a supportive and closely connected network of vineyards.

“We have all been waiting fondly for the return of Welsh Wine Week and will mark the first event with no restrictions with a stellar line up of producers. We hope to welcome many more wine enthusiasts into our businesses this year, so please sign up to our events and treat yourself to some quality Welsh wine as you do.”

Full event listings and access to exclusive competitions and interviews with Welsh vineyards can be found on the dedicated Welsh Wine Week website.

Welsh Wine Week is organised by the Welsh Drinks Cluster, funded by Welsh Government, which works in partnership with Welsh drinks producers to promote the industry and its production of world class products.

For more information go to: https://www.welshwineweek.co.uk/

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Warm Pembrokeshire welcome for Ukrainians fleeing from war

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE community has been preparing a warm welcome to Ukrainian people fleeing the devastating war in their homeland.

Across Pembrokeshire, people have been signing up to become sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme – one of the formal routes by which Ukrainian people can make their way to the UK, having been matched with a local family.

To date, Pembrokeshire has seen over 75 households signing up to the scheme.

As part of the formal process for becoming a sponsor, Pembrokeshire County Council is undertaking checks to ensure that people arriving from Ukraine are being offered safe and comfortable environments in which to live.

When people arrive with their sponsor household, contact is made by the Council to welcome them, support them with any immediate needs and ensure that they know where they can get information and advice.

The Pembrokeshire Community Hub, a partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council, PAVS and Volunteering Matters, is also working with Council teams and community groups to ensure that people are offered a warm welcome to the county.

People who are hosting and sponsoring families arriving from Ukraine are being equipped with information packs to help them prepare for their guests’ arrival and are also being invited to become part of an online support network, where they can connect and support one another.

The support has led to positive feedback from local people hosting Ukrainians with compliments for the level of assistance and support provided.

Community groups are also establishing themselves across the County, offering a range of support to those arriving.

This includes spaces to meet, organised community gatherings and fundraising activities.

Through the Community Hub and with support of PAVS, these groups are also being encouraged to join Pembrokeshire Community Support Network – Ukraine, where they can get up to date information, share with one another and get support when needed.

If you are looking to support people arriving from Ukraine, or are already doing so, and would like more information, please contact the Pembrokeshire Community Hub on 01437 776301 or ukrainecommunityresponse@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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