Posted: Fri 1st Mar 2024

Rogue Trader Leaves UK Couple Living in Nightmare Without Kitchen or Living Room

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

A couple were left “skint” and living without a kitchen and living room for months after a rogue trader, who turned the lives of families upside down, conned them out of thousands.
Daniel Roche, 47, of Ynyshir Road in Porth was given a four year and five months prison sentence at Cardiff Crown Court on February 9.
The prosecution was brought forward by Cardiff Council and the police after Roche left a number of homes in an unfit state, with families having paid thousands for materials which were never installed and work which was never completed.
Roche ultimately caused families to lose a combined £115,000.
In a separate unrelated incident, Roche also threatened a man he knew in Newport with a BB gun over a dispute that had come to a head.
A victim of Roche’s criminal activity, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her and her partner’s lives were put on hold by the ordeal Roche put them through, with the excitement of buying a new home together in their 30s turning into a nightmare.
“It was awful,” she said when describing what it was like having to live with the house in the state it had been left in.
The kitchen was unusable because it hadn’t been fitted properly and plug sockets hadn’t been correctly installed, she said. Electrical wires were also left exposed.
According to the homeowner, who shared her experience with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the downstairs flooring was also ruined and the living room was out of bounds as it was used to store kitchen appliances that couldn’t be used.
The homeowner said: “It was a complete mess because there was plaster dust everywhere as well, so it just felt like a building site. Nothing was clean, everything was covered in mess and dirt. We just couldn’t get on with out lives.
“We couldn’t have friends over because there was nowhere to go or to sit… our diet was terrible. We were just eating rubbish or convenience food which cost even more money. It left us with massive trust issues.”
The couple lost £7,000 to the rogue trader.
They said Roche made contact with them in March, 2021, when they were looking to have a wall between their dining room and kitchen knocked down and have a new kitchen and plug sockets installed.
Work started on the property in April, but it wasn’t long before major issues were noticed.
Instead of returning one day to a shiny new kitchen, the couple noticed that it had been fitted incorrectly and to all the wrong measurements.
Roche would go on to ask for more than £1,000 for materials and hundreds of pounds for wages, but he regularly failed to turn up for work and make any progress on the project.
One day, the homeowner went on holiday with her partner.
Before going, she wrote down a list for Roche of works that needed to be completed and gave him a set completion date.
However, once they were on their way the homeowner said she received a text asking for more money to be transferred.
She did not respond to the request and on their return, the couple discovered that no work had been done and that all the tools on site had been taken away.
In a lengthy exchange of text messages, she said Roche told them: “You had one chance, I will tell you now… I ain’t doing one ounce of work until I get a grand”.
The homeowner eventually asked Roche if he would be willing to enter into an alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Roche continued to insist on being paid money and the homeowner said he tried to call her one morning, but she replied to him with a text asking for all further correspondence to be in writing.
The last correspondence she received from Roche in May, 2021, was “get f****d”.
The homeowner found another builder to start work on the kitchen in mid to late June, 2021, but she said the rest of the house couldn’t be worked on until the following autumn.
It wasn’t until December, 2023, that new carpets were installed, but the damage done to the home has now been rectified.
Some faults were obvious to the couple, but it took a professional to spot others.
The homeowner said: “They did put some plug sockets in above the kitchen worktop on the wall, for your kettle [for example].
“I didn’t realise until after that they needed to be redone as well because they had used wires for lights.
“I didn’t know. For kitchen appliances, you need better wires and cables than what you would just use for lights.
“That was really dangerous. That could have gone very wrong.”
When asked if she felt unsafe in the house, the homeowner said: “Yes, I did. We are not stupid, so we just didn’t use the room and the plugs that we would have otherwise.
“There is no living room, there is no hallway. We just lived upstairs for a while.
“Everything that was in the kitchen had to be moved into the living room, so that was stuffed full and it had a dodgy plug in, so we pretty much lived upstairs.
“Because we were waiting for the other renovation work which then we couldn’t do because of all the delays, there was no carpet. It was rough.”
In a victim impact statement read at court, the homeowner described how buying the property was supposed to be an exciting time in her and her partner’s lives.
She said: “It has been so stressful. It was our first home together. It is meant to be a happy time isn’t it? We are both early 30s building our future.
“It was meant to be our forever family home, but it has just been absolute hell.”
The couple were also planning to start a family, but that has been put on hold as well and they have had to work two jobs to make ends meet.
As with the other victims, the couple will not be compensated for what happened as no court order for costs could be made without evidence of Roche’s financial means.
However, the anonymous homeowner said the ordeal had opened her eyes to how easy it was to become a victim of a rogue trader.
She said she had even carried out a number of checks, like calling a previous customer, but she suspected the appraisal was simply someone close to Roche.
“It is really easily done,” she said.
“In that respect, it has made me a better person. I am more sympathetic to these issues.
“He said he had fallen out with his friends and he needed money off me so he could pay them to then keep it going.
“I didn’t want his workers to go without because he hadn’t paid them, but it is not my problem.
“I like helping people, I want people to be able to go home and feed their families and his work mates shouldn’t have to suffer because [of him].
“He did make me feel really bad and if I tried to raise issues about money, which I did, he would make out like I was the bad person.”
Roche carried out works at properties in Cardiff, Pontyclyn, Merthyr Tydfil and Ynysybwl.
One family paid out more than £78,000 to Roche and was brought to “the brink of collapse”, according to a victim impact statement read out at court.
Roche’s defence said he had become overwhelmed after taking on too much work and that he had long standing issues with alcohol consumption and gambling.
He pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business and being in possession of an imitation firearm.
Cardiff Council has given people a few points of advice before looking for someone to carry out work on their properties, including: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Asking friends and family to recommend used and trusted trades people
Asking contractors, trades people or builders to provide details of previous clients who can be contacted for a reference
Avoid doorstep sellers
Use a builder from a recognised trade association, like the National Home Improvement Council
Check online whether a contractor is registered gas safe engineer on www.gassaferegister.co.uk
Check online whether an electrician is registered with a national competent person scheme on www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk
Check online whether builders are registered with any competent builders approved schemes at www.competentperson.co.uk ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Before appointing a contractor, trades person or builder the council also recommends that you: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Always check the contractor, trades person or builder’s name and address – you can use online directories or visit Companies House online if they are a limited company
Visit their website
Ask your contractor, trades person, or builder to give you a fixed quote for the job, rather than an estimate which can be subject to change
Check the price by getting at least three quotes and make sure all quote for the same amount of work
Be wary of any very low quotes and ask the contractor, trades person, or builder to check that everything has been included
Once you have selected a contractor, trades person, or builder, make sure you have a clear agreement on the scope of work to be done, how much it will cost and when it will start, ideally in writing to avoid any confusion
Always check if VAT is included or not as this will add 20% to the total cost ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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