A ROGUE builder from North Devon has been jailed for two years and eight months for defrauding his customers out of approximately £38,000.

At Exeter Crown Court on Thursday, March 30, Samuel Harvey (32), of Greenbank Road, Barnstaple, was sentenced following a prosecution by Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service.

Previously, on January 31 at Barnstaple Magistrates Court, Harvey had pleaded guilty to three offences under the Fraud Act and two offences under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

Between June 2020 and April 2022 Harvey, who ran a landscaping and building business in North Devon, took tens of thousands of pounds from his victims for building or landscaping work he either didn’t start or didn’t complete.

The victims, who were from Plymouth, Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe in Devon and Bridgend and Swansea in Wales, lost money with some who had works started but not completed having to pay other traders to have the work done properly.

The Court heard that Harvey had a previous similar conviction from 2011 relating to an incident in Bristol where he received a suspended 20 week prison sentence. 

Judge Richardson said that Harvey had “left people feeling guilty and stupid when the fault does not lie with them”.

The Judge added: “You left people feeling unsure and insecure as to who to trust.” On sentencing she said she had taken into consideration his mitigation and early guilty plea. 

Harvey has also been banned from running or managing a business for a period of ten years. 

The Court also ordered a confiscation investigation.  The victim surcharge was left to be calculated.

Stephen Gardiner, the legal process manager for Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said: “If you’re looking to have work done then we always advise you get a range of quotes from reputable traders either through recommendations from people you trust or through an approved trader scheme such as our own ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme.”