Rogue trader Henry Douglas admits to swindling more customers
A 53-year-old man who has made a "career of dishonesty" and who is currently serving a prison sentence for conning scores of people out of money has admitted a string of further offences.
Rogue trader Henry Douglas, from Laurel Lodge in the Flush Park area of Lisburn, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud by false representation, and also of causing damage to an electricity box.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Douglas adopted the same modus operandi whilst committing the same type of offences.
He advertised his services to fix household electrical equipment such as cookers and dishwashers in the Yellow Pages. He then called out to those who responded to his advert, and after they handed over money for spare parts that he identified were needed, he would disappear with their money.
Judge Paul Ramsey QC told Douglas: "What you do is prey on the vulnerable and frustrated. People become frustrated with household items that aren't working, and you come along like a knight in shining armour."
Douglas was jailed earlier this year after admitting a spate of offences when he conned homeowners out of small amounts of money on several occasions last year.
He was back before the court again yesterday where it emerged three more victims had come forward after being duped by Douglas.
Crown prosecutor Tessa Kitson told the court that on January 21, a woman contacted the police indicating that five days before, she answered an advert in the Yellow Pages in relation to an electrician. After she contacted Douglas, he arranged to call at her home. He then told her he needed £60 upfront to pay for a new part for her washing machine. The woman handed Douglas the money, but he failed to return and fix the washing machine.
The PSNI received another call that month from a man who also responded to Douglas's Yellow Pages ad. On this occasion, the resident was asked to give Douglas £50 for an interior kitchen light. Again, Douglas failed to return to the man's house to fix the light.
Ms Kitson said that on December 24 last year, a woman contacted the police and said that on December 10, she answered a Yellow Pages ad in relation to her dishwasher. Douglas called at her home, took a £40 cheque for a part, but didn't return. The cheque was subsequently cashed.
As a result, police called to Douglas's home on January 22, and during the course of their enquiries, they discovered an electricity box had been tampered with.
The prosecutor also revealed that "as far back as 1997", Douglas had been offending in the same way, adding he was "a persistent offender".
Defence barrister Peter Coiley admitted his client had "made a career out of dishonesty", but said that when he is released from custody, Douglas will not be "out and about" committing further offences.
Revealing Douglas is a qualified electrician by trade, Mr Coiley said his client was anxious to serve his sentence, then "make a fresh start" when he is released from custody.
Passing sentence, Judge Ramsey told Douglas he preyed on the "vulnerable and frustrated" and branded him a "serial offender."
He was handed a 12-month sentence – half of which will be spent in custody with the remaining six months spent on supervised licence when he is released from custody.