Black and white image of a bunch of keys on jail bars, illustrating a prison sentence

Plumber jailed for three years after leaving customers ‘desperate’

A Cambridgeshire plumber has been sent to prison for three years after leaving customers with incomplete, sub-standard work or not carrying out work for which he’d been paid.

Jason Landels, who traded as JL Heating and Plumbing, appeared at Huntingdon Crown Court in March 2024, having pleading guilty in November 2023 to fraudulent trading in a case brought by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards.

Mr Landels, 38, of Grenadier Walk, Hardwick, was also issued with a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order by the court, which bans him conducting his business in this way in the future.

Trading Standards started to receive complaints about Mr Landels in December 2020. Some consumers reported paying him thousands of pounds and then struggling to get him to do the work. Many were left with incomplete work, sub-standard work that needed putting right by alternative tradespeople, or without having received any work at all for their money.

Elaborate stories would be given to explain his absence. He also stated he was Gas Safe registered, which he was not.

Trading Standards gave Mr Landels a legal warning in January 2021, at which point he declared himself bankrupt to evade the 20 County Court Judgements against him. However, Trading Standards continued receiving complaints and started legal proceedings.

He started to promise refunds to some of his customers but none were made.

In the case brought against him, 17 witness statements were gathered, with offences mainly committed across Cambridgeshire as well as Peterborough City. Gas Safe Register provided a witness statement for the prosecution, and had carried out an investigation in 2017.

Recorder Keightley, who presided over the case, said: “The rigours of running your own business were too much for you, but despite this you continued to offer services and take money from clients, knowing that work could not or would not be done.

“You left a large number of people out of pocket and severely inconvenienced, including during Covid. Moreover, you did this despite warnings and interventions at a number of points. In doing so, you put your needs and wants first.

“I have considered three victims in particular. It is plain that these vulnerable people were put to extraordinary inconvenience, cost and upset in a way that is significant. You took risks with little regard to the consequences. It is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.”

Jacqui Harvey, head of Operations for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards, said: “This prosecution sends a clear message that those who trade fraudulently – damaging the trust and confidence of our communities in local tradespeople – will be brought to justice.

“This wasn’t just a case of being left with a dripping tap. Some of the contracts were to facilitate the care of high-level dependants, leaving them in a desperate situation without suitable facilities. Others who were already dealing with complex health issues were left struggling to manage at home.

“Despite knowing the distress he was causing, Landels continued undeterred, and even took steps to evade County Court Judgements that had been sought by his victims. The Criminal Behaviour Order… will help to ensure that he cannot go on perpetrating these crimes after he has served his sentence.”

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