STAFF at a Hereford bank played an instrumental role in catching a Shropshire man who tried to scam an elderly victim out of thousands of pounds for home maintenance works.

Leo Warner, of Hamlet Close, Ludlow, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for aggressive commercial practices and the contravention of the requirements of professional diligence

He was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, but suspended for 18 months, after Powys County Council's trading standards took him to court.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard on Tuesday, May 18, how Warner had contacted an 84-year-old Llandrindod Wells resident at his home for building works.

Warner provided the victim with a verbal quote for the works to be carried out, namely soffits, guttering, painting of the house and garage. No paperwork was provided at that time.

The price given was £3,500 but Warner told the victim that they would need to save some money.

Work started on July 22, 2019, and, that morning, Warner told the victim that they would need a cherry picker to reach about the conservatory.

Warner presented the victim with a costing from a local plant hire business that was not dated. The price went up to £5,500 but Warner agreed to do everything for £5,000.

The victim explained that they didn't keep any cash in the house and his nearest bank was Hereford, and Warner said he would follow him to collect materials.

Warner gave the victim directions to the car park and paid for his ticket, and told the victim that he might as well withdrawn the full £5,000.

The victim went into NatWest Bank in Hereford, where staff initiated the banking protocol after their suspicions were raised that the victim was going to withdraw such a large sum of money and they could see they were uncomfortable.

The police were called and the victim was taken to a safe place while the bank branch manager and a colleague searched for the vehicle described to them by the victim.

The vehicle, which had been seen passing the bank driving very closely, was located near the bank.

Warner was later arrested by West Mercia Police.

After the sentencing, which also saw Warner told to pay a £150 victim surcharge, Councillor Graham Breeze, cabinet member for corporate governance, engagement and regulatory services, said: "Doorstep crime can affect anyone but often it is the elderly and the vulnerable that are targeted by rogue traders offering home improvement services.

"In these cases, the work conducted is usually extremely poor. Our advice is never to accept work from cold callers and remember the old saying that if it is too good to be true, it usually is.

"The best advice we can give householders or businesses is not to employ any unknown trader who cold-calls offering to carry out repairs or improvements to their property."

Legislation requires cold callers to give consumers a cancellation notice, giving them 14 days to cancel the contract made for any work over £42. Failure to issue a cancellation notice in the correct manner is a criminal offence.