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Council secures heavy fine for director who intimidated elderly couple and threatened to dig up their drive

Cheshire East Council’s trading standards service has secured a prosecution and heavy fine for a company director who threatened an elderly couple after they refused to pay £9,000 in cash for a new drivewa

Staffordshire businessman Steve Brown (50), of Wincote Lane, Wootton, Eccleshall, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £11,900 plus £1,000 to the couple for their distress.  His company – I Trust Homes UK Ltd, Barlaston – was fined £1,000 when Brown appeared at Manchester Crown Court for sentence on 11 February.

Brown and his company were found guilty at an earlier hearing, of applying aggressive commercial practices, including a threatening voicemail to dig up the driveway and for visiting the couple in person at their home in Poynton, after being told by Cheshire East trading standards not to make contact with them.

After completion of the work, a company employee asked for cash and offered to take the elderly woman to a bank to withdraw the money. She refused the offer but notified the bank of her need to withdraw the sum. Cheshire East trading standards became involved after the bank became suspicious and put a stop on any large withdrawal from the account. 

Trading Standards stepped in on behalf of the couple. When Brown visited the couple, a member of the trading standards team was present at their home.

Brown was told by the judge his actions amounted to aggressive trading practice and to threaten the couple was a serious matter.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for regulatory services, said: “This was a despicable action by a trader who was exploiting the vulnerability of an elderly couple.

“I would like to praise the work of our trading standards team and legal services for their work in bringing this businessman to book.

“Sharp practices cannot be tolerated by this authority and we will not hesitate to prosecute.” 

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