Jailed rogue trader's brother admits to cons
THE brother of a notorious rogue paving firm boss, who was jailed for his dodgy work in the Bristol area, has been punished for his part in the scheme.
John Coffey, 32, is the younger brother of Jim Coffey, 34, the former director of Interlock Drives, who was jailed for three years and four months for a dozen fraud and trading standards offences committed in 2009 and 2010.
Jim Coffey targeted the elderly on their doorsteps in Hanham, Downend and Stockwood and bullied them into having unnecessary work carried out on their homes.
The father-of-three then harassed his vulnerable victims for thousands of pounds to pay for shoddy work they never wanted.
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His crimes funded a lavish lifestyle – including a £700,000 mansion with a swimming pool in Pilning as well as a property and land in Cardiff.
His brother John appeared at North Avon Magistrates' Court to be sentenced yesterday, after previously admitting one charge of fraud by false representation.
Magistrates heard how Geraldine Parfrey, a 66-year-old widow from Hanham, was targeted by the firm.
Richard O'Sullivan, prosecuting, explained that an employee of Interlock Drives, named Anthony, knocked on her door on November 10, 2009.
He asked her if she wanted her drive jet-cleaned and sealed and she agreed to pay £250.
Mr O'Sullivan said: "Mrs Parfrey was then told that her patio and cars needed to be cleaned and that she would be charged £150.
"Anthony also poured water into a trough at the front of the garage to show she needed new drainage and said the total cost would be £1,500.
"That day another man from Interlock Drives came to the house calling himself Tony – he was in fact John Coffey – to talk to the woman about damp in her house.
"He told her that the damp proof course was being damaged by algae, but did not tell her how much remedial work would cost."
The court heard the next day a trench had already been dug around Mrs Parfrey's house and still no one would tell her the cost.
It was then that Mrs Parfrey contacted the police.
During an investigation, South Gloucestershire Council's trading standards team employed a chartered surveyor who said the work was "poor, utterly without function and unnecessary".
Coffey, of New House Farm, Wentlock Road, Cardiff, had originally denied the offence but pleaded guilty on August 14.
Gavin Rolf, defending, said Coffey had only been involved in this one incident and not in his brother's bigger scheme.
He said the father-of-three did not lead a lavish lifestyle like that of his brother but worked as a labourer for G Davis and Sons in Newport.
Mr Rolf said that Coffey, who cannot read or write, had gone to Mrs Parfrey's home because Interlock Drives had employed G Davis and Sons as sub-contractors.
He said that Coffey acknowledged "he had no clue whatsoever whether the work was needed or not, and that his opinion was negligent".
Mr Rolf added: "He accepts it crosses the threshold into dishonesty and that is why he has pleaded guilty."
Coffey was ordered to complete a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work.
He must also pay £500 in prosecution costs, as the case had twice been prepared for trial.