He stole money from his customers, including a cancer patient, to gamble. However, Leon Mann, the former owner of Gainsborough Roofing in Lincolnshire, UK, won’t go to prison for his crimes.
Mann pleaded guilty to 12 acts of fraud between December 2019 and May 2021, for which he received a suspended sentence of 16 months. He will also have to pay a fine of £10,000 (US$12,600), according to The Business Desk.
The outcome could have been worse, but it isn’t uncommon. This past March, an employee who stole from his employer in order to gamble was given a suspended sentence with 150 hours of community service.
Easy Come, Easy Go
A nine-month investigation resulted in the sentence and fine. Lincolnshire Trading Standards, the local branch of the government’s consumer watchdog, launched the investigation in 2020 after receiving multiple complaints from residents. However, Mann continued to scam his customers, despite knowing that he was under investigation.
Trading Standards learned that Mann received deposits from potential customers for roofing work, taking in anywhere from £500 to £2,750 (US$630.25 to $3,466) at a time. However, instead of spending the money buying materials and beginning the jobs, he immediately turned around and spent it gambling online.
As the customers realized that Mann wasn’t starting the work, they began contacting him for explanations. In some cases, the repairs were desperately needed, and delays exacerbated problematic situations.
One customer, for example, paid over £2,000 (US$2,520) to fix the leaky roof of a house where a cancer patient lived. Another, undergoing radiation treatment at the time, paid £2,750, but work never began. Neither customer received refunds.
Mann concocted different excuses to explain the delays. Sometimes, it was because of personal illness; other times, a family illness. Bad weather, car trouble and COVID-19 also became reasons why he couldn’t do the work.
When the customers began pressuring him, his once soft and friendly demeanor was replaced by aggression and intimidation. This led them to contact Trading Standards, bringing to an end Mann’s escapades.
Time to Face the Music
Trading Standards passed the case off to the Lincoln Crown Court because of the seriousness of the offenses. Last month, appearing before a judge, Mann breathed a sigh of relief when he avoided going to jail.
Instead, he received the sentence, which the judge suspended for two years. In addition, he must make restitution of £9,410 (US$11,850) to his victims within six months. He also has to pay court fees of £2,500 (US$3,148) within a year.
Gainsborough Roofing is apparently still in business. The company’s website is active and appears to have been updated earlier this year. On Google, it has just eight reviews that give it an average rating of 3.1 out of five stars.
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