A Swindon businessman admitted that his tactics were ‘aggressive and misleading’ when he tried to persuade a diabetic 80-year-old Herefordshire man to buy unnecessary home improvement work from his company.
Company director Garry Potticary, 63, of Pye Lane, Swindon, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court on May 16 to three charges of engaging in commercial practices which were either misleading or aggressive towards Christopher Russell in October 2016 and April 2019.
Mr Russell had stated that he felt ‘tired and worn down’ by Potticary when he was selling him roof insulation and wall cladding work.
Potticary and his company Spectrum Energy Guard Ltd had been due to stand jury trial at Cirencester Courthouse accused of seven alleged offences of illegal commercial practice but at the last moment he changed his pleas to guilty on three of the charges.
Prosecutor William Douglas-Jones, for Herefordshire Council, accepted the pleas and did not proceed with the other charges against Potticary. He said the case against the limited company would not be continued because it no longer exists, having been dissolved in June last year.
The judge, Recorder Richard Mawhinney, ordered a pre-sentence report on Potticary and bailed him until July 17.
The charges Potticary admitted were:
* Engaging in a misleading commercial practice on April 3, 2019 by telling Mr Russell that his home required a wall coating to protect the existing cavity wall insulation when in fact the proposed work was not necessary and his sales pitch had been false and untruthful.
* Engaging in a commercial practice which was aggressive on the same date by telling Mr Russell he would get a discount of £2,700 only if he waived his right to a cooling off period and agreed to having the works carried out within an unduly short period of time.
* Engaging in a misleading commercial practice on October 17, 2016 by telling Mr Russell that his home required spray foam loft insulation when in fact the proposed work was not necessary.
Mr Douglas-Jones said the basis of Potticary’s guilty plea was not accepted to the prosecution but they would not take issue with it on pragmatic grounds as it was unlikely to affect the sentence he will receive.
“Our position is that his sales visits were planned and there was an intention to mislead the consumer,” said the lawyer. He said the Crown accepted that the offences were at “a lower level than fraud”.
Leslie Smith, defending, said Potticary admitted his guilt on the basis that he had ‘fallen foul of the regulations’ in the way he dealt with the customer.
Mr Douglas-Jones added “The aggravating features here are that the offences took place in Mr Russell’s home and also Mr Russell’s vulnerability and age.
“The 2019 transaction was about wall coating and there has been a refund for that.
“Mr Russell says he feels he was impeded in his decision making at the time of these offences by being tired and he was worn down.”