A builder fraudulently tried to charge a Stevenage customer £5,400 for a roofing job.

The actual work required was worth considerably less.

Dermot Quilligan, 25, also caused criminal damage to the customer's roof, and behaved in a coercive and aggressive manner towards her.

Originally the consumer had used a a website agency to find a trader to rectify leaking guttering, at her Ridgeway home.

In October 2019, she received and accepted a quote of £60 from Emerald Roofing and Building.

Mr Quilligan and Patrick O’Brien attended the property and began work, but quickly pressurised the consumer into agreeing to further work that was not wanted to required.

This work began with fascia boards, before increasing to the roof itelf.

Soon, the price had risen from £60 to £5,400.

Mr Quilligan then claimed that the customer needed to pay £2,000 for scaffolding that could not be cancelled, and the money was needed immediately.

When she went to a branch of Nationwide Building Society to withdraw the money, an insightful mortgage consultant raised the alarm.

Trading Standards and Hertfordshire Police officers attended the property, and both men were subsequently arrested.

Dermot Quilligan was sentenced to one year in prison, at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday (June 9).

Upon sentencing, His Honour Judge Foster described the crime as "really despicable conduct involving preying on a vulnerable lady who had suffered storm damage".

The court also heard that Mr Quilligan had a previous conviction for a dishonesty offence in Victoria, Australia in 2019, leading to deportation.

His accomplice, Patrick O’Brien, was found guilty of unfair and aggressive commercial practices and criminal damage to the roof.

He received a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £500 to the consumer, a victim surcharge of £20 was also payable.