A disgraced ex-police officer turned rogue trader, who ripped-off homeowners he charged £112,900 for shoddy work, has been jailed for eighteen months.
Plumber Steven Trendell, 42, who admitted fraudulent overcharging, resigned from the Met a decade ago when prosecuted for moonlighting while on sick leave.
Last October he was given a five-month window of opportunity to start compensating his victims and save himself from prison, but did not pay a penny.
Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court Judge Andrew Campbell told him: “I’m not going to describe in great detail the appalling consequences of those you cheated.
“It has caused them a great deal of anxiety and a great deal of money.
“You have left behind a trail of destruction. I gave you the opportunity to make some reparations, but you failed to do so.”
Trendell, of Monks Green, Fetcham, Leatherhead pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business, namely Home Edge Plumbing & Heating, between August 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
The charge relates to work at neighbouring properties in Evesham Terrace, Surbiton for two loft conversions and an extension and trading standards say the overcharging equalled £51,200.
He also pleaded guilty to making a false representation to the occupiers of a property in Ravenscar Road, Surbiton, David and Elizabeth Anderson, namely that he provided a genuine gas safety certificate and was FENSA-registered.
“We have lost our entire life savings and are in serious debt and could lose our home,” said one of the Evesham Terrace couples, who paid Trendell £57,200.
The loft extension of their £800,000 home needed to be ripped down and rebuilt and the extension re-roofed, with an extra £30,000 needed to put things right.
The front door did not close properly, the hall floor was rising, the staircases did not comply to regulations, sink waste drained into their dishwasher and the drains were unfinished.
Their next-door neighbours also hired Trendell, who told them he was a former soldier, who served in Bosnia and protected the US President and other VIP’s for the Met’s protection division.
The court heard Trendell claimed he retired from the force on medical grounds and not because he received a suspended prison sentence for deception in 2006.
They paid him a total of £55,700, but an independent expert valued the work at £17,500 with more money needed to complete the project.
Judge Campbell said the first couple had lost over £90,000 and their neighbour’s Matthew and Rachel Williams £36,000.
He lied to the Anderson’s he was FENSA-registered - a window-fitting competency scheme - when charging £40,000 to convert their property to a single dwelling.
Trendell also left behind a bogus gas safety certificate and when investigated by the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames refused interview requests.
He was also sacked by his solicitors because he refused to pay them and fought the case until shortly before his trial was due to begin.
Regarding the first couple Judge Campbell told him: “There is no doubt the effects have been devastating and they had to borrow money from relatives.
“It’s a trail of destruction and they’ve suffered torment.”
Trendell told the judge: “It is regrettable what happened. When I embarked on these projects I hoped they would come to a conclusion where everybody was happy.
“Thank-you for the opportunity you gave me to pay both the victims, but the job that was due to start in November was put back to January and it has not been finished yet, so I have not been paid.
“I was relying on that to pay back the money.”
Investigators found £120,000 his business received ended up in his wife’s bank account, but Trendell claimed: “There is very little left. Most was paid to sub-contractors and for materials.
“I have been suffering with depression. It has been a pretty tough time and I’ve just ben trying to support my family.
“I am regretful, remorseful and very sorry for everything that happened.”