Wales

Driveway conman who made £1m from elderly found guilty

Allan John Coutts outside of Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court
Image caption Allan John Coutts outside of Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court

A tarmac trader who conned more than a million pounds from hundreds of elderly customers has been found guilty of fraud at Merthyr Crown Court.

Some of the work carried out by Allan John Coutts crumbled away in just weeks, and he failed to finish other projects on driveways across the UK between 2015 and 2016.

Coutts bought a Highways Authority tarmac lorry and kept the logo on it before targeting vulnerable people.

He will be sentenced on August 30.

Coutts, from Hampshire, would promise a five year quality guarantee on the resurfacing work, but it often fell apart within weeks.

He would claim there was tarmac left over and could offer a deal on a driveway before it hardened on the lorry.

He charged between £500 to £7000 for the work, usually taking the sum in cash but sometimes accepting card payments or bank transfers.

The trading standards investigation found £600,000 of cash and card payments in just over a year.

Image copyright Trading Standards
Image caption He would tell victims he had left over tarmac and offered a deal on a driveway

Clive Jones, principal trading Standards officer at Powys Council, who brought the prosecution against Coutts, said outside the court: "He pushed poor quality tarmac and work onto unsuspecting vulnerable consumers right across Wales and the UK.

"He had little concern about the impact of his crimes or victims. The average age was 75 years old."

Mr Jones said Coutts received over £1,000,000 and that "he preyed on the elderly and vulnerable to get that money".

One victim, Alan Crossley, 71, a retired GP from Powys, paid Coutts £2,000 to resurface the drive to his house.

"The first really big storm we had after the work was completed it just washed away," Mr Crossley said.

Image copyright Trading Standards
Image caption He targeted vulnerable and elderly people

"Rainwater was running down my drive and it washed a whole river through the middle of the gravel.

"It lasted just weeks and then I started clearing away everything he'd laid.

"I felt stupid to be taken in by what was a fairly transparent operation.

"I couldn't believe the scale of the operation. I thought maybe I was one of half a dozen people in Powys, but this was nationwide. "

Image copyright Trading Standards
Image caption The jury took just under an hour to find him guilty

The jury of seven women and five men took 50 minutes to find Coutts guilty.

Judge Richard Twomlow said: "You failed to pull the wool over the eyes of this jury."

"The evidence against you was substantial and you went out of your way to defraud people and for that you will receive a lengthy prison sentence".

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