Bogus plumber Wade Jeffery jailed after sting operation
A STING operation was launched to catch a bogus plumber to stop him putting his customers' lives at risk.
Wade Jeffery placed adverts in publications including Yellow Pages, falsely claiming his plumbing and heating businesses were registered with the relevant safety bodies.
Bristol Crown Court heard he used several business names, including A Wades Heating, Harrison Heating and All Weather Heating.
Jeffery claimed the businesses were registered with Gas Safe, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) and the Oil Fired Technical Association (OFTEC) - but this was a sham.
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On one occasion, the court was told, Jeffery turned up at a customer's home smelling of alcohol and, after falling off a worktop, he punched the boiler he was supposed to be working on.
Trading standards staff were so concerned about his activities that an officer posed as a customer so police could arrest him and bring him to justice.
The 51-year-old, of Greenbank Avenue East, Easton, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and three counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice between January and December 2010.
Jailing him for a year, Judge Simon Darwall-Smith told Jeffery: "Members of the public are plagued by people like you, putting them potentially at risk. You have an appalling record of dishonesty, using 24 aliases and providing nine different birth dates to the authorities."
Alan Fuller, prosecuting, said the investigation began in December 2009 after trading standards receiving information Jeffery was operating a number of plumbing businesses, accepting commissions from consumers and landlords for work he was not legally permitted to undertake.
When trading standards officers posed as consumers and asked Jeffery to undertake work to a gas boiler he drove to the job, despite being a convicted disqualified driver.
He was arrested at the scene and later found to have invoices totalling £15,000 for work involving his bogus companies.
The court heard Jeffery had previous convictions for drug possession, robbery, shoplifting, threatening behaviour and driving while disqualified.
In mitigation the court heard that Jeffery, had problems with alcohol and other substance misuse.
Jonathan Martin, who heads the city council's trading standards department, said: "This man was putting people's lives at risk and was working under assumed names with false addresses.
"We needed to set up an operation to catch him in the act and gather the necessary evidence to take effective action to stop him endangering others."
City council cabinet member for communities Guy Poultney said: "This sends out a warning to rogue traders."
â Anyone who believes that they have had worked carried out by Jeffery or someone else under the business names he used should call trading standards on 0117 922 3604.