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Rogue Traders – Expert Evidence in Rogue Trader Criminal Prosections

Medico Legal

My name is Tim Davies. I am a Chartered Building Surveyor, Valuer and Expert Witness with over 30 years’ experience in the property and construction profession.

For the past 20 years, I have been Principal/Director of my own independent chartered surveying practice (website www.trdavies.co.uk). In addition to my civil expert witness work, I have over the years, assisted various Police forces and Trading Standards Departments throughout the UK with rogue trader investigations (I am a registered Property Expert with the NCA – National Crime Agency), specifically in relation to property matters, which usually necessitate my professional advice to determine:-

1. Whether works purportedly completed by rogue traders have actually been carried out.

2. Whether such works that were completed was carried out to an industry acceptable standard.

3. Whether the consumer/victim has been charged a fair and reasonable price for any works satisfactorily completed.

In my experience, largely, the answer is normally a resounding “no” to one or all of the above.

The inspections and subsequent detailed reports I provide are used to assist the instructing party in criminal prosecutions and subsequent trials and are fully CPRc19 compliant.

Recent successful prosecutions I have provided written evidential reports for and given oral evidence include the following:-

1. An elderly widow in the Swansea area had been targeted for over 10 years by a rogue trader, with the victim herself having been charged nearly £220,000 for supposed “improvement and repair work” to her small semi detached bungalow for which the work I subsequently valued at being less than £4,000. The victim herself had kept relatively detailed records of all cheque and cash payments made to the trader, who was subsequently arrested and tried in Swansea Crown Court. He was convicted on all charges and subsequently jailed for a 5 year term (www.walesonline. co.uk/news/local-news/conman-stole-more- 160000-pensioner-13975887).

2. In 2014 a rogue trader by the name of Ronnie Connors targeted an elderly widow in the affluent North Cardiff suburb of Rhiwbina. Over an 18 month period he took, in total, over £167,000 from this vulnerable lady, for work that I valued at less than £6,000. He was brought to trial and sentenced to 3 years in jail. He was subsequently released on licence and was then recently again caught targeting an elderly vulnerable female in the Gwent area, and faced a further prosecution. Again, he was convicted and sentenced to a further three years custody for virtually an identical offence. This was widely reported in the press and media in December 2018 (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales- 31937730) (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-46559689)

3. In 2016 I was instructed by Powys Trading Standards to provide several individual inspection reports throughout Wales, in respect of a rogue trader by the name of Alan Coutts, who was prolific in undertaking tarmac resurfacing (tar and chip) work throughout the UK. In total over an 18 month period, he had accumulated in excess of £1.5 million from many unsuspecting victims. He would often target rural, isolated dwellings offering to resurface driveways and farm tracks with his “MO” suggesting that he was working for the Highways Agency (his vehicles were badged in Highways transfers and orange flashing lights) stating that he had surplus materials that he could use on their driveways. At Merthyr Crown Court in April 2018 he was tried and I provided expert testimony on behalf of the Crown as lead Expert Witness. Alan Coutts was found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict and sentenced to 5 ½ years in custody. Again this was widely reported in the press and media (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45360333).

Unfortunately the above cases are not uncommon, I produce more and more of these reports each year. My reports are robust, detailed and supplemented with photographs and diagrams that assist the Judge and jury in gaining a full understanding of the expert evidence. A clear, well constructed, detailed report written in unambiguous and understandable language (to a lay person), together with good photographs is an invaluable form of information to convey the cost, extent and standard of work that is the subject of the prosecution.

The expert evidence I have provided in report format is not often challenged, and on many occasions I have been informed that the evidence I have produced has been a critical element in the trader/traders entering an early guilty plea, based on the content of the report, therefore not necessitating costly trials or our court attendance.

The most recent case in Swansea Crown Court in December 2018 illustrates this fact where two rogue traders were given custodial sentences for their crimes, with a guilty plea entered late on the morning of the trial, just after the Jury were sworn in (www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/cruel-conmen- scammed-vulnerable-couple-15629014).

When I have been called to provide expert evidence, in all cases I have attended, my evidence has been instrumental in securing successful prosecutions, for Council Trading Standards Departments in respect of fraud related charges and also in respect of contravention of the provisions of the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Act 2008.

I have provided many CPRc19 and CPR35 compliant reports over the past 12 years for instructing parties.

I have previously passed the Cardiff University/Bond Solon Diploma in both Civil and Criminal Expert Witness Practice 2009 and 2016 (the training and assessment for which has been of considerable assis tance with my expert witness work).

I am one of the few Chartered Surveyors registered as a Property Expert on the National Crime Agency database, to which national police forces have access in a search for an appropriate expert in a specific case.

The Expert Witness database, of which I have been a member for several years is also a very useful point of reference for obtaining the details of such professionals and an invaluable resource for solicitors, police and trading standards officers involved in this area of work.

The early instruction of an expert in such cases often provides invaluable assistance with prosecutions. I am based on South Wales, but often work throughout the UK on specific cases where requested to do so.

It can be challenging and emotive work, but also very rewarding and satisfying when a conviction is secured against rogue traders and criminals working in this illegal area.

Tim Davies

BSc (Hons) MRICS MAE

Cert EW (Civil & Criminal)

Chartered Building Surveyor, RICS Accredited

Valuer & Expert Witness

Telephone: 01443 229576

Email Address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Web Site:

www.trdavies.co.uk

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