Dodgy builders jailed

Two fraudsters who charged more than £128,000 for building work valued at only £12,000 have both been given prison sentences following action from Islington council.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A partially built house with breezeblocks and scaffolding
Photo: (Brett Jordan/Unsplash)

Two fraudsters who charged more than £128,000 for building work valued at only £12,000 have both been given prison sentences following action from Islington council.

Luke Ockenden and Peter Tannahill were initially hired by their female victim to remove a tree from her Islington home for a quoted price of £300.

The pair coerced the homeowner into undertaking a range of building works, including lead replacement, brickwork sealing, exterior house painting and interior plastering.

Judge Falk sentenced Mr Ockenden and Mr Tannahill to 36 months (three years) and 42 months (three and a half years) respectively, remarking that this was “a high culpability fraud carried over a significant period of time” and the victim was “drained of her life savings.”

Mr Tannahill received more time due to his attempts to get the victim to add him to her will as a beneficiary.

In relation to Mr Ockenden, the judge noted that his offending was “aggravated by implied threats of violence” and that he had “shown no remorse”.

The duo, trading under the name ‘Luke’s Tree and Landscapes’, harassed the homeowner into paying a total of £128,650 for unnecessary or shoddy building work during January to March 2021.

An investigation was launched by Islington Council’s trading standard and legal services teams, after the victim was advised to get in touch with them by the police.

An expert surveyor’s report revealed that, had the work carried out by the pair been done to a satisfactory standard, its value would have been an average of approximately £35,500.

In reality, however, the work was assessed to have a value of merely £12,000, indicating that most of it was either poorly executed or not performed at all.

The prosecution against the duo was led by the council on August 9, 2023, at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Mr Ockenden, 27, of Yateley, Hampshire and Mr Tannahill, 41, of Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, were sentenced after having pleaded guilty in a previous hearing to fraud by false representation for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme targeting a vulnerable homeowner.

As part of the sentencing process, the council said it will be asking the court to award compensation to the victim to alleviate the financial losses incurred during the scam.

The judge thanked the council’s investigation officer for “a thorough investigation in what was clearly a difficult case”.

John Woolf, executive member for community safety on the Labour-run authority, called it a “very upsetting case”.

“Thanks to our trading standards and legal services teams, action has been taken and the culprits have faced justice,” he said.

“We will take similar tough action against anyone who comes to our borough and rips off our residents like this.

“Islington Council remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the welfare and safety of our community.

“Our trading standards team is here to support and assist anyone who feels they may have been a victim of fraud.”

According to Citizens Advice, you should report a business to your local trading standards office if they sold you something:

  • unsafe or dangerous, like an electronic appliance with faulty wiring
  • not as described – for example, you bought a package holiday but something advertised wasn’t included
  • you didn’t want to buy – for example, they put pressure on you

You can also tell them about a business if:

  • they scammed you – for example, you paid for something online that you didn’t receive and you couldn’t contact the seller
  • they tried to stop you using your legal rights – for example, they said you can’t return faulty goods
  • they weren’t clear about the price or added on extra costs – for example, they advertised theatre ticket prices without booking fees
  • they sold products to people who looked underage without asking for ID – for example, alcohol, knives or fireworks
  • they didn’t carry out work properly – for example, kitchen fitters left your home in a dangerous state

To find your local trading standards office visit:

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