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Conman told to repay £68k


AHEARTLESS conman who in- timidated people in Maidstone into paying for shoddy workman- ship on their driveways has been ordered to repay £68,330. An investigation by Kent County Council’s (KCC) Trading Standards began in 2013 and led to 12 months’ imprisonment for Owen Saun- ders (left) in June 2015. The case in-


volved four vic- tims


from


Whitstable, who were conned out of £28,500 by


Saunders, trading as Berkeley Driveways, for work which was so shoddy that an independent expert estimated the value to be just £271. However, KCC Trading Stan-


dards continued its investigation into Saunders’ activities and identi- fied other potential victims. More than 50were contacted and,


of these, 12 more victims came for- ward with details of work carried out on their driveways. AProceeds of Crime process con- cluded at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday (12 September). Victims from Whitstable, Broad-


stairs, Bearsted, Sevenoaks, Pad- dockWoodand Coxheath provided evidence of aggressive trading, shoddy workmanship and mislead- ing actions with regards to Saun-


ders’ companies, including Berkeley Driveways, based in Upchurch. Saunders has 14 days to pay the compensation to his victims or face another 21 months’ imprisonment. Hewas also ordered to pay £63,000 in costs in 14 day. Trading Standards operations manager Clive Phillips said: “Where we can show that criminals have fi- nancially benefited from their crimes, our financial investigators will track down assets and present their findings to the court. “The Proceeds of Crime Act gives


courts powers to make compensa- tion and confiscation orders andwe will ensurewe use this legislation to the full effect where criminals target the residents of Kent. “We recommend that residents al-


ways seek at least three quotes for work that youknowneeds to be car- ried out and do not be pressured to sign a contract until you are ready and willing to do so. For a list of companies approved by KCC, you can contact checkatrade.com online or call 0333 0146 190.” Mr Phillips described this as one


of the worst cases KCC Trading Standards had investigated. He added: “Saunders used ag- gressive tactics to get work, and then ignored customers' rights by increasing charges partway through a contract, restricting customers' rights to cancel, and carrying out poor workmanship.”


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Hungry for food festival


THE county’s appetite for food was in evidence as queues formed on the roads to Leeds Castle for its Fan- tastic British Food Festival. Crowds were up by 2,000 for the


third event of its kind at the castle, with 11,800 visitors over the three days. They were there for the cookery demonstrations, talks, and 40 food stands selling speciality liqueurs, wine, veg boxes, cheeses, chilli jams, fudge, artisan breads, cakes, pas-


tries, and sweets. A castle spokesman said the


event – run in conjunction with The Great British Food Festival – contin- ues to be a success and is due to be- come a fixed event on the castle’s calendar. She added: “Crowds were greatly


helped by the wonderful weather on Sunday and, according to social media, people seem to have had a lovely time, with some coming more than once.”


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