A TEENAGE roofer fleeced pensioners and carried out botched and unnecessary roof repairs, leaving one house in a 'dangerous' condition with gas leaking into the loft.

Brad Birch performed poor standard and entirely unnecessary repairs which in one case left the roof in a worse condition than he found it after he tricked two Kidderminster pensioners.

The 20-year-old, aged 18 at the time of the offences, admitted two counts of fraud and four of breaching consumer protection from unfair trading regulations (misleading action) after he was reported to trading standards in relation to work he carried out while trading under the name BB’s Roofing.

David Munro, prosecuting the case on behalf of Worcestershire County Council, said both complainants lived at two addresses at Hay Close, Kidderminster.

Birch cold called a 71-year-old male victim who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and coronary heart disease.

Birch, who had set up his own business called BB's Roofing, told the man he had moss and lichen on his roof which need to be removed, visiting his home in December 2015.

Birch told the man he would normally charge £500 for the work but, as it was coming up to Christmas, he would do the job for £175.

"In fact the roof required no such treatment" said Mr Munro.

When Birch went up on the roof he claimed a tile was cracked and the roofing felt under the tiles had burst and sagged.

It was accepted that it would have been obvious to Birch that the pensioner was in poor health because of the oxygen tank and would not be able to get onto the roof to verify the defendant's false claims.

Birch quoted him a price of £6,300 which the man agreed to pay but then Birch came down again and said there was 'bad news', claiming the roof tiles were crumbling and it would be best to replace the roof.

Birch had quoted £13,900 and the man paid the money by a combination of bank transfer and cheque because he was so concerned water would get into his house.

A later inspection by a surveyor showed the tiles were poorly laid and required remedial work to correct, costing £725 plus VAT. The total loss to the man was put at £14,625.

Mr Munro said: "It was a ruse. The defendant accepts that's what he was doing."

Birch of Streets Lane, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall also cold called another house in Hay Close, canvassing for work in mid December 2015, claiming her roof needed to be cleared of moss and lichen.

The 70-year-old was told that moss had eroded her tiles and a new roof would cost her £12,000 but Birch suggested he could do the job for £1,950 and she was persuaded.

On December 17 work began but when it was finished the woman noticed something lying on the roof and stopped the cheque.

Mr Munro said: "The object turned out to be the gas flue pipe. She was concerned about the flue pipe. She was right to be concerned. The gas supply had to be disconnected because it had been left so it vented into the loft space. This was obviously dangerous."

He said the risk this work caused was 'considerable' and described both victims as 'vulnerable'.

Only nine tiles on the woman's roof were replaced and 22 were damaged by Birch, leaving the roof in a worse state than when he found it.

Adrian Harris, defending, stressed the defendant's youth at the time of the offences.

He added: "He comes across as someone who is honest about what he did, contrite about what he did. He used those ruses to create work for himself."

Mr Harris argued there was no compelling evidence of him targeting the victims on the basis of their vulnerability.

"He full accepts what he did and is genuinely sorry. He has taken a good, hard look at himself" said Mr Harris.

Birch had no relevant previous convictions and Mr Harris asked that he be given credit for his guilty pleas.

Judge Nicholas Cole said: "An aggravating feature is that you left the roof in a worse state than it had been before you went up there and left the gas flue in such a way that gas fumes were venting into the loft."

The judge sentenced him to 16 months detention in a young offender's institution but suspended the term of imprisonment for 18 months.

Birch must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay compensation in full - £14,625 to the male victim and £1,027 to the female victim.

He must pay £3,000 compensation within 28 days and the rest within three years.

The judge did not award prosecution costs because he was not satisfied that Birch had the means to pay, prioritising instead compensation for the victims.

Cabinet member with responsibility for communities – Cllr Lucy Hodgson said after the hearing: “The work done by our small team of Trading Standards Officers to protect the elderly and vulnerable of Worcestershire cannot be overplayed.

“Cold calling by unscrupulous businesses, although often disputed, clearly targets vulnerable groups in society who are much more likely to be at home during the working day.

“Our dedicated team of trading standards officers actively investigate criminal complaints such as this, and will continue to do so to protect the public from this type of fraudulent business activity.

“The sentence handed down in this case clearly shows that such matters are viewed very seriously by the courts.”