Fraudster told to pay back just £201 to victims

A police custody picture of Keith Winning
A police custody picture of Keith Winning
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A ROGUE gas fitter who made thousands by ripping off customers has been ordered to repay just £201.

Keith Winning, 42, used the alias ‘Andy’ and traded as Portsmouth Plumbing and Heating, leaving older and vulnerable residents with potentially dangerous gas work.

His dodgy dealings included repeatedly failing to fix a boiler and being unavailable when a leak sprang up.

He promised to fit a new boiler but instead left the existing unit in place and scratched off the serial numbers.

Winning also overcharged for pipe work later deemed unsafe by inspectors.

But despite making at least £4,695 from his criminal enterprise, it was determined at a confiscation hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court that he had only £201 available which will be shared between three victims.

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said Winning should have been ordered to repay all of his criminal gains.

He said: ‘He should be made to pay back every single penny back to the people he took that money from illegally.’

Among Winning’s victims were Sheila and Russell Paling, from North End, Portsmouth.

Winning tried to trick them into having their boiler replaced, despite it being unnecessary.

He left the couple with a fresh leak after visiting their home to fix a small problem they had.

Mr Paling, 60, said: ‘He was capable of reputable work. Why he should let his standards slip and suddenly become a con artist and turn to crime, I just don’t understand.

‘Had my wife been on her own she would have been forking out £4,000 to £5,000 for a totally unacceptable boiler.

‘In terms of the financial situation, it’s not a particular problem for us, but I can well imagine some people may be hurting and lost a lot more money.’

Portsmouth’s Trading Standards team found a string of complaints after they started to investigate Winning in 2011.

He was arrested but continued to advertise and carry out work while he was on bail, and more complaints were received by trading standards during 2012 and early 2013.

Winning was jailed for 13 months after admitting three counts of fraud, assaulting two police officers and misusing the Checkatrade.com logo in his adverts.

He was given a seven-year anti-social behaviour order banning him from charging a fee as a plumber, heating technician or electrician for inspecting or diagnosing faults, conducting repairs, installation or replacement work.

The order also bans him from renewing any advertising of his services as a plumber, gas man, heating technician or electrician.

Addressing Winning at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘I find that there is a criminal benefit in the sum of £4,695. I find that the available amount is only £201.

‘Consequently I make a confiscation order in the sum of £201.

‘I give 42 days to pay, with a default sentence of 10 days in the result of non-payment.’