DODGY gas fitter Keith Winning is behind bars after ripping people off and putting them at risk.
The 42-year-old, of Green Farm Gardens, Hilsea, admitted three charges of fraud which included promising to fit a new boiler but leaving the existing unit in place and scratching off the serial numbers.
He also repeatedly failed to fix a boiler and was unavailable when a leak sprang up. And he grossly overcharged for substandard, unsafe pipe work.
His deception, which was targeted at elderly and vulnerable people, landed him in court where he also admitted falsely using the Checkatrade.com logo and attacking two police officers.
Winning, who used the alias Andy and traded as Portsmouth Plumbing and Heating, was jailed for 13 months and handed a seven-year Asbo to protect the public from his substandard work.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Allison Fraser of Portsmouth CID, said: ‘Keith Winning is highly manipulative – his offending ties in with his personality as a calculating and controlling man.
‘He had continually denied these crimes throughout the investigation, pleading guilty just before a trial was due to start.
‘I’m extremely concerned about the possibility that other people may be in danger from his fraudulent work.
‘Winning used a false identity and showed a blatant disregard for the potential consequences of his brazen behaviour while under investigation.
‘We’re appealing for anyone else to come forward to Gas Safe if they believe Mr Winning has carried out work in their homes.
‘This work is also likely to be of a poor standard, and we run the risk of there being unidentified gas leaks in the homes of other people whom we may have been unable to identify or contact so far.’
Portsmouth Trading Standards team began to receive complaints about Winning in 2011 and they unearthed a string of complaints, all involving the elderly, and unsafe and fraudulent practices.
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.
Trading standards manager Peter Emmett said: ‘Keith Winning preyed on vulnerable people who believed he was a competent trader from his adverts but he was not. He thought nothing of taking their money and ripping them off.’
RETIRED COUPLE CHARGED ‘OUTRAGEOUS’ PRICE FOR WORK
Sheila and Russell Paling, from North End, fell victim to Winning.
Mrs Paling said: ‘We hired Keith to do some work on our boiler and he charged us an outrageous price.
‘We had lots of problems with it and when we couldn’t get hold of him we rang consumer advice for help. They passed our details to the council’s trading standards team, and the investigation began.’
Mrs Paling, who is retired, added: ‘I’m pleased that Mr Winning has been sentenced. We could have left it but we didn’t. I’m glad our case has helped the investigation and stopped him from ripping off other residents like ourselves.’