Nicholas Ford of Picton Way, Caversham, and Michael Evans of Kew Gardens, Marlborough, trading as Rivar Hill Holdings Limited (no connection to reputable Newbury company Rivar Ltd) were sentenced at Reading Crown Court on 25 February 2019 after pleading guilty to an offence under sections 3 and 8 of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The convictions followed an investigation by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) Trading Standards Service working with the PPP Joint Case Management Unit and West Berkshire Legal Services.
The investigation started after a complaint from a Newbury resident revealed work carried out by the company’s contractors was so substandard that it posed a safety risk to the homeowner. Gas works to a gas boiler were carried out by an unqualified plumber and left an immediate danger to life. The homeowner had received an electric shock from damp plasterboard attached to a newly built wall. Trading Standards’ own expert witness was so concerned on inspection of the property about the safety of beam installations that he advised the victim to install temporary building rods to prop up the steels. Other work conducted was also of a poor standard and contravened the requirements of professional diligence.
The defendants admitted that they recklessly failed to exercise the standard of special skill and care commensurate with the provision of project management and were ordered to pay £20,000 in compensation each plus £9,000 towards prosecution costs that being the total amount in the company account.
Commenting on the case Cllr Iain McCracken, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said: “The Public Protection Partnership will always investigate such complaints by the public and legal action will follow where appropriate. This kind of offending that leaves people with unsafe property and out-of-pocket is completely unacceptable. We believe this sentence sends a clear message to would-be perpetrators.”
He went on to say: “All Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire or Wokingham residents that have concerns about activity of this nature, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, should contact the service on 01635 519930 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org”.
The Public Protection Partnership is a shared service of Bracknell Forest Council, West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council and delivers trading standards, environmental health and licensing functions.