Prison sentences for three convicted rogue traders in Highland
4th October 2014
Three brothers from Inverness were jailed for a total of five-and-a-half years at Dingwall Sheriff Court on Thursday 2 October 2014 for doorstep crime offences, defrauding people in their own homes.
James Johnstone (42) pled guilty to charges of extortion, fraud and theft. Peter Johnstone (30) and William Johnstone (35), from Inverness both pled guilty to charges of fraud. The convictions follow a joint investigation over several months led by Police Scotland and involving Highland Council Trading Standards that was initiated after a number of complaints about the activities of the brothers had been received by both organisations.
During the investigations it emerged that the three brothers offered property maintenance services under a variety of trading names including Johnstone Property Maintenance. Their modus operanda also appeared to be designed to frustrate detection sometimes apparently leaving the area for several months at a time. Cold calling unsuspecting householders they would be persistent and persuasive, preying on any perceived vulnerability of those they targeted. In the aftermath of their work surveyors' reports confirmed that either: no repairs were carried out by them or; if there was work done it was minor and substandard often causing further damage to the properties.
Gordon Robb, Highland Council's Trading Standards Manage, said: "Doorstep crime can take many forms and it is often difficult to understand what is meant by bogus workmen or rogue trading. This case is a classic example of this sort of behaviour and one which clearly identifies why consumer protection law has been strengthened in recent years to ensure that the public are given greater protection from aggressive or unfair trading practices, are provided with clear information about any work that they may agree to have done and any cancellation rights they may have.
"This kind of Doorstep Crime can affect anyone if they are not on their guard, but older or vulnerable adults are definitely more at risk from becoming victims. Highland Council Trading Standards has a robust enforcement policy when it comes to this type of crime and will continue to work closely with Police Scotland and other partner agencies to combat it."
Councillor Thomas Prag, Chairman of Highland Council Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, acknowledging the conviction said: “It's deplorable that anyone could knock on the door of someone, particularly someone who is vulnerable or elderly, lie to them and steal their money in this way.
“I would encourage anyone who thinks that they, their family or a member of their community has been targeted in this way reports it. It is only when we know about a problem that we can attempt to do something about it. The custodial sentence handed down by the Sheriff in this case, although considered by some to be too lenient is still a very welcome outcome and hopefully one that will deter others who choose to prey on the old and vulnerable."
Anyone with concerns about Doorstep Crime can contact the Police on 101 or Trading Standards, The Highland Council, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) no need to make an appointment; phone: 01463 228700 or email: trading.standards[AT]highland.gov.uk
The Highland Council is reassuring people in the region that since Storm Caroline and the arrival of winter weather to the region, the Council's Community Services has been deploying all of its available resources to tackle the condition of Highland Council pavements and roads. The Council's gritting fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
Budget update Council will today consider a potential budget gap of £33.5 million in the next financial year in 2018-19. It will take several days to achieve clarification of the precise settlement to The Highland Council following the Scottish Government's draft budget announcement.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting . The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
With Storm Caroline hitting the Highlands yesterday, today's heavy snowfall and the forecast for a drop in temperatures over the next 48 hours, the Highland Council's crews and winter vehicles have been busy in action. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over the coming months 200 plus staff will be providing winter maintenance services.
Wick Campus, including Wick High School, Newtonpark Primary School and High Life Highland Leisure facilities will remain closed on Friday 8 December 2017. The closure is due to high winds during Storm Caroline today which caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached.
Following the high winds forecast and experienced this week due to Storm Caroline, The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which may have been damaged. Roads affected by fallen trees this morning were near Beauly; Achnagarron near Invergordon and Lochaber which staff are clearing.
The high winds during Storm Caroline today have caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached. The school was already closed to pupils today due to the adverse weather.
Road condition reports by The Highland Council's Community Services for the morning of Thursday 7 December 2017 are as follows: Caithness and Sutherland: Most roads are affected by snow and ice. Treatment in progress.
The Highland Council expresses its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: "This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.
Highland consumers who have lost money to a scam involving payment through Western Union wire transfer between 1st January 2004 and 19th January 2017, are being encouraged by Highland Council Trading Standards to file a claim for a refund with America's Federal Trade Commission in a bid to get some or if not all of their money back. In January 2017, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million for turning a blind eye to scammers and other criminals who used its service to trick customers into paying for bogus prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront.
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