MAKING shoddy garden gates for an elderly couple and charging them £400 has cost a home and garden improvement trader nearly £1,200.

Denzil Michael Thomas, trading as Special Branch, based in Merlins Bridge, appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Friday and pleaded guilty to two charges in connection with the matter.

The court heard that Thomas agreed a contract with the Goodwick couple in August last year to make wooden gates for a total of £400, assuring them that they would be beautiful.

Magistrates were told that the two gates were badly constructed and made of ‘feather wood’, which is more suitable for fencing. They were made and installed in a few hours and their construction rendered them not fit for their purpose and liable over time to warp, twist and drop.

The actual cost of materials for each gate was approximately £25.

Thomas pleaded guilty to an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, in that he misled the complainant as to the quality of the gates.

He also failed to issue to the complainant, at the time of agreeing the contract, a statutory seven day notice which allows consumers to cancel an agreement within seven days of it being agreed. He pleaded guilty to this offence under Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work Regulations 2008.

The case was brought by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Trading Standards team.

Defending, Mr Jonathan Tarrant said his client accepted that he has supplied a sub-standard pair of gates and failed to give notification to the consumer of her rights to cancel.

Thomas received a conditional discharge for two years, and was ordered to pay the full costs of £923.16, plus a victim surcharge of £15 and to reimburse the couple the £245 they had paid, amounting to £1,183.16 in total.

Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services said: “Traders are expected to adopt a level of professional diligence, and the County Council’s Public Protection Trading Standards team will continue to take action against businesses which fail to comply with regulations.”