A burglar alarm engineer who conned customers with false claims about his credentials and the quality of his service has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Nicholas Parker’s actions resulted in some clients not being covered by their home insurance. He also made misleading claims in advertisements that he ran a “local” company at a number of locations across Kent, whereas he was operating from just one address – his home.
At Canterbury Crown Court, in a case brought by KCC Trading Standards, Parker faced 24 charges, including fraud and breaching Unfair Trading Regulations.
He was found guilty by the jury on all charges and given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a curfew from 7pm to 7am for four monthsand ordered to pay £5,000 costs.
On various websites Parker claimed to be: Key Services, based in Hythe High Street; Home Guard Alarms in Canterbury, Ashford, Whitstable, Folkestone and Maidstone; Britannia Security Services in Ashford; City Alarms in Canterbury; and Canterbury Locks and Alarms.
He also claimed to be Brook Security Ltd, a legitimate company to which he had no links, and which later had to spend money to clear its name.
Several allegations of misleading potential customers into believing he was “local” to them were rolled into a single count. In each case, calls to the various phone numbers with local dialling codes were directed to Parker’s mobile phone. This practice was said to contravene “the requirements of professional diligence” and were likely to “distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer”.
Other offences involved making misleading claims about the alarms he fitted and falsifying documentation. On several occasions Parker falsely claimed to be approved by the SSAIB, a respected industry certification body, and NACOSS, an approval scheme operated by the National Security Inspectorate, and therefore authorised to install to professionally recognised high standards of work recognised by the insurance industry. The impact of this crime was that his victims might not have been covered by their home insurance.
KCC Trading Standards began investigating Parker’s business in 2011. He was invited to attend interviews with Trading Standards officers in Ashford, but failed to make any of three appointments. A warrant was executed and a large amount of evidence was gathered at his home in Draper Avenue, Margate.
He was committed to the Canterbury Crown Court in April 2013. He denied the charges when the case was heard but the jury found him guilty of them all.
After the verdict KCC Trading Standards Manager Mark Rolfe said:
“This was a complicated case, which lasted three weeks and involved 16 witnesses, so we are naturally pleased with the outcome. Parker’s victims believed they were dealing with a reputable, local company and trusted him to protect their homes from criminals whereas, in fact, he is a criminal himself and potentially left them unprotected.”