A rogue trader who conned an elderly couple out of £1,000 before fleeing the country has been given a deferred jail sentence.
Matthew Baness, 32, of Brickly Road, Luton, was sentenced to 16 months in jail, deferred for six months, when he appeared at Luton Crown Court on Monday, March 30.
Baness had pleaded guilty at the same court on 9 March to defrauding the couple from Dunstable in August 2012 and contravening Trading Standards laws.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s Trading Standards team received a complaint from the couple after Baness agreed to block pave their drive for £2,200.
When the contract was agreed, Baness did not provide the couple with cancellation rights, as required by law.
He then returned to the property a few days later and asked for £1,000 in cash to buy building materials. However, once the couple handed over the cash Baness stopped taking their phone calls and disappeared.
Trading Standards carried out a detailed investigation, but just as it was nearing completion, Baness fled abroad.
On his return to England, however, he was arrested by police who were investigating a series of similar offences, including a £3000 fraud against an elderly gentleman in Bedfordshire.
Following a joint case by the Council and the Crown Prosecution Service, Baness appeared in court last month.
Sentencing him, Judge Richard Foster made it clear to Baness that he was not impressed with him taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable and said that he must pay back both victims in full within six months or go to prison.
Iain Berry, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “This result illustrates some great joint working between our Trading Standards team, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
“Justice has finally been served, despite the efforts to which Baness went to avoid his day in court.
“Hopefully this will serve as a lesson to anyone contemplating carrying out similar offences in Central Bedfordshire.”