A ROGUE trader has been jailed for conning a string of people across the county.

John Hargadon took money for work he never finished and lied to trick East Lancashire residents into having work done that wasn’t needed.

Lancashire Trading Standards investigated the claims against Hargadon. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to eight charges.

The 54-year-old stole thousands of pounds from 15 victims from across the county in Haslingden, Nelson, Clitheroe, Barrow near Whalley, Blackburn, Wilpshire, Hoghton, Adlington, Preston, Walmer Bridge, Hutton and Aughton.

Hargadon, of Collingwood Street, Colne, also scammed residents in West Yorkshire and Cheshire.

The conman read out a letter he had written to the judge in court, saying he ‘honestly and truthfully apologised to all of the decent people he had deceived’ and that he ‘realised that life is too short and had changed.”

Sentencing, Judge Simon Berkson said the offences had been committed while Hargadon was on bail awaiting trial and sentence, and following release on licence from prison for similar crimes.

He also pointed to Hargadon’s previous convictions from 2013 and 2017 as aggravating features. Referencing the nine victim personal statements in the case, he said that his victims had lost confidence in tradesmen.

“You were prepared to rip off people of all ages and all types,” he said.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community services, said: “This rogue trader preyed on vulnerable people, using lies and deceit to con them out of large amounts of money, sometimes running into thousands of pounds.

“This prosecution sends out a clear signal that we won’t tolerate rogue traders and scammers and we’ll do everything we can to stop them.

“If you’re looking for a trader to carry out work on your home, always do your research. Use recommended firms, such as those listed on our Lancashire Safe Trader website.”

One of the victims, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I feel that the stress he caused affected me mentally, because I feel demoralised and ashamed that I allowed somebody to make me feel this way.

“My confidence has also suffered and I now feel far less confident when it comes to employing any workmen in the future because I feel like I may make the same mistake again.”

Dawn Robinson, principal trading standards officer, added: “Our team put in a lot of hard work to investigate this case and we’re pleased that justice has been done. Rogue traders can cause mental anguish to their victims and families, some of whom lose vast amounts of their life savings for work that is poorly done or incomplete.”

To report a rogue trader, contact the Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

The county council’s Lancashire Safe Trader scheme lists details of reputable traders in the area at safetrader.org.uk