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Cardiff Crime South Wales

Rogue trader pushed families to financial instability

Daniel Roche of Ynyshir Road, Porth was sentenced to prison for four years and five months at Cardiff Crown Court after Cardiff Council and Crown Prosecution Service brought forward a prosecution for charges of participating in a fraudulent business

A ROGUE trader who caused families to lose tens of thousands of pounds left them feeling unsafe and uncomfortable in their own homes.

A combined Cardiff Council and Crown Prosecution Service prosecution was brought against Daniel Roche of Ynyshir Road, Porth, after he carried out shoddy work at a number of homes and threatened one man with a bb gun.

Roche, 47, was said to have left homes in unsafe conditions, recommended work that didn’t need to be carried out and made numerous false promises to customers, constantly failing to turn up for work and not installing materials he made them pay thousands of pounds for.

At a Cardiff Crown Court hearing on Friday, February 9, it was revealed that Roche’s fraudulent activity led to four separate households losing a combined £115,798.

Two victim statements were read out at court – one claiming that live wires were left exposed in the house and another stating that Roche’s fraud against them had led her family to the “brink of collapse”.

The court heard how, in a separate incident, Mr Roche threatened a man he knew in Newport with a bb gun over a dispute that “came to a head”.

In what was described as a “bizarre” offence by Mr Roche’s own defence, he was accused of turning up at the victim’s door, pointing the bb gun at him and counting down from three to one.

However, there was no evidence to show the bb gun was loaded and none to show that any actual harm was done.

Roche pleaded guilty to the offence and told the police he threw the gun in a river. The victim turned down the opportunity to provide a statement.

Kieran Galvin, defending, said Roche had long-standing issues with alcohol consumption and gambling and that he was taking on too much work.

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He also said the bb gun incident was described as a cry for help as Roche became overwhelmed with his business.

Roche started work on the first complainant’s property in November, 2021.

The Cardiff resident, who wanted to turn their property into a house of multiple occupation (HMO), paid thousands of pounds to Roche over a number of months for materials and wages.

As with the other three complainants, Roche failed to turn up and carry out work on numerous occasions, giving excuses like illness and having Covid.

Chris Evans, prosecuting, said the victim “felt really under pressure” by Roche to make payments and a new kitchen which was paid for in full was never completed.

Mr Evans said Roche didn’t provide evidence of purchased materials when it was asked for and that a surveyor, who was later brought in to inspect the work, said it had been done to a “very poor standard”.

By this point £78,997.20 had been paid by the family.

Mr Evans added: “It was the opinion of the report that the only work of value was the rendering… which [had] an allowance of £1,000.”

In an impact statement, the Cardiff resident said the actions had a “profound” impact on her and her family.

The statement, which was read out in court by Mr Evans, said the impact of the crime led to “chronic insomnia” and limited the resident’s ability to “engage with activities and work normally”.

At the same time work was supposed to have been carried out at this victim’s home, Roche took on work at a home in Merthyr Tydfil.

Delays to work led to the couple at this property, which included a heavily pregnant woman, being left without hot water and heating for about a week according to the prosecution.

Mr Evans said electrical work here was left in an unsafe condition and a “significant number of issues with the work were identified”.

The couple was given a quote of more than £20,000 to have the electrical issues at their property fixed.

A resident living in Ynysybwl put out an advert for building work, which included having a wall demolished and a new bathroom fitted, in February, 2022.

Roche responded to the advert later in the month and started demolishing the wall, but there were soon “daily delays” to the work, Mr Evans said.

The prosecution went on to add that Roche failed to turn up when he said he would on multiple occasions and the complainant lost faith in the builder by April, 2022.

It was also in April that Roche started work on a fourth property in Pontyclyn.

The prosecution described to the court how Roche said he and his team couldn’t turn up to work one day because they were hungover and that he once asked for more than £1,000 for materials and £650 for wages.

At one point, Mr Evans said the complainant did not respond to one of Roche’s messages asking for payment due to a lack of work taking place.

The complainant went on holiday, but on her return in May she found that no work had been completed and that the tools on site had gone.

Mr Evans said a text was sent by Roche to the resident saying: “You had one chance, I will tell you now… I aint doing one ounce of work until I get a grand”.

In a victim impact statement, the Pontyclyn resident said she and her partner bought their house together in 2021 and that they were “somewhat relieved” when Roche got in touch to say he would take on the required work there.

However, they said it “turned out to be a huge mistake and one that… cost significant stress and anxiety.”

The couple were left “out of pocket” and the victim impact statement went on to add that the complainant felt uncomfortable in her own home.

She said Roche “used my empathy to his advantage”, “intimidated me” and expressed “manipulative behaviour which made me question myself”.

It went on to add that she “experienced dread” when the name Daniel Roche came up on her phone and that the couple was left feeling “financially unstable”.

Roche’s defence, Mr Galvin, said: “As regards the frauds, it is obvious from the dates when he saw these… customers, he was overstretched.

“It wasn’t a fraud from the outset, but it obviously became one pretty rapidly.”

He asked the judge to consider Roche’s “worthwhile” and “timely” guilty pleas, the fact that he had three children and his struggles with alcohol and gambling.

His Honour Judge Timothy Petts noted the prosecution’s acceptance of Roche having taken on too much work and becoming overwhelmed, but added that “this is of little comfort” to the victims.

He said Roche “failed to deliver” what he promised to do and that £115,000 “was paid for very little work worth very little in return”.

Roche was sentenced to four years and and five months in prison for participating in a fraudulent business and being in possession of an imitation firearm.

However, no award of costs was made because there was no evidence available of Roche’s financial means.

Judge Petts said those who had lost money as a result of Roche’s actions “will have to receive remedy elsewhere”.

Cabinet member responsible for Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) at Cardiff Council, Cllr Dan De’Ath, said: “This case shows that if people want to have improvements made to their property, please do your research.

“Always get three quotes for the work that you want carried out, so you can do everything you can to avoid appointing so called builders like Roche.

“Not only did he con his victims, but he used bully boy tactics, threatening people that he would leave the job halfway through, if further money wasn’t paid.

“He even threatened to bring legal action against his victims when they challenged him on work that he hadn’t carried out and for questioning where appliances were that he claimed to have ordered, but hadn’t.

“The victims had to borrow further money to rectify the faults that Mr Roche had caused, and the Victim Impact Assessments clearly show the stress and anxiety that resulted from his actions.

“He now has time to reflect on the impact that he has caused his victims from behind bars.”