A ROGUE builder will serve 22 months in prison following a successful prosecution by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Ian Cottle, of Brooke Street, Barry, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of engaging in unfair commercial practice at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, October 10, with a further five charges of fraud set to lie on file.

An investigation carried out by shared regulatory services found Cottle had committed a string of trading standards offences by misleading customers into giving him money for materials he did not purchase, failing to give cancellation rights and starting work without permission.

As well as his prison sentence, Cottle was disqualified from operating as a company director for five years.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Cottle, who operated under the trade name Ace Plastering and Building Services Ltd., had contracted jobs out to others who performed substandard work. One premises was left in such poor condition it was later deemed to be dangerous.

He had also sent aggressive texts to customers, with judge Neil Bidder describing some of them as threatening and close to blackmail.

The people he employed were so incompetent that one had to borrow a customer’s paintbrush and hammer.

Judge Bidder told Cottle he would serve half of his sentence in prison before being released on licence, and would return to prison should he breach that licence.

He was ordered to pay £2,000 in victim compensation, a further £2,000 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £140.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “Despite being advised previously by Trading Standards, the defendant’s appalling work left customers counting the cost. In addition, Mr Cottle’s sometimes threatening communications only added to the misery for customers when trying to resolve problems with him. I hope this prosecution sends out a clear message that trading practices of this sort will not be tolerated.

“I would echo the judge’s advice to obtain clear written quotations when having building work done. People should also be aware that the law allows a person to cancel contracts made at their home. I would also urge residents to take time and care when choosing traders to work in their homes. Ideally look for someone who is a member of a relevant trade association or responsible trader scheme; and always ask to see examples of other work they have carried out."

Anyone with concerns about rogue traders or seeking advice on finding reputable tradespeople, should contact Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 (for Welsh language 03454 040505) or go to citizensadvice.org.uk.