London

Dishonest locksmith jailed for four years

Mark Makowski
Image caption Makowski has featured several times on the Rogue Traders programme

A dishonest locksmith who tricked customers out of money despite being exposed by a BBC programme has been jailed for four years.

Mark Makowski, 40, from Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, overcharged his victims by hundreds of pounds for shoddy and unnecessary work, the Old Bailey heard.

He was convicted of 15 counts of fraud relating to 11 out of 88 complainants, mainly in the London area.

Makowski was also banned from being a company director for five years.

'Unpleasant bully'

Makowski featured several times on the Rogue Traders programme, but he changed the name of his company after appearing.

The court heard that between April 2007 and September 2008 he deliberately targeted people who needed an emergency locksmith.

His victims, who had been burgled or locked out of their houses, often late at night, were usually in a "desperate or vulnerable state", the judge said.

A number of those he preyed on were elderly, or women on their own or with children.

Makowski would usually quote prices between £100 and £200 then eventually charge more than £500 and on occasions more than £1,000.

Jurors were told he ignored letters of complaint and bullied unhappy customers, calling one woman "a parasite and scum" when she phoned him about his work.

An investigation by Trading Standards' officers found 88 people who had expressed concerns about his conduct and 11 cases were taken to court.

Judge Anthony Morris told Makowski he had acted as an "unpleasant bully, riding roughshod over any opposition to your business methods".

He added: "You have shown a total lack of remorse for your offences and shown yourself to be a thoroughly dishonest man."

A confiscation hearing, at which levels of compensation will be decided, is due to be heard next year.

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