A rogue gardener who conned local people out of thousands of pounds to feed his gambling addiction has received a 12 month suspended sentence.

Samuel Jackson, 25, formerly of Soham, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud at Cambridge Magistrates Courts for taking deposits for landscaping work he never started or did not complete.

The court heard how Mr Jackson had used the money for an out of control gambling addiction.

Charles Snelling prosecuting told the court the alarm was first raised with officers in 2014 when Mr Jackson took a deposit after agreeing to remove a fence, but walked away from the work. Officers began an investigation tracing further victims with six people being affected in total all losing significant sums. Mr Jackson was operating under two company names "“ Outdoors Restore and S & J Landscaping and Groundworks.

Jackson was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently. The sentence was suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work, ordered to carry out a rehabilitation activity order working with the Probation Service and compensate victims £8,842.

Richard Torfitt, Chairman of the Bench at the hearing, said: "Clearly, this is a very serious offence. The level of offending has impacted on a large number of people who put their trust in you. You abused that trust."

Adrian Love, Trading Standards Officer at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "We received a number of complaints from local people, which we investigated. It was clear early on that Mr Jackson was promising services, mainly landscaping, he either never intended to start or complete. The people affected were from all walks of life and we would advise that when looking for contractors you use recommendations, or an approved business scheme such as Buy with Confidence scheme."

For more information on approved business schemes see http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/info/20108/approved_trader_scheme


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