‘Rogue’ builder, 79, jailed after conning elderly people out of thousands of pounds

Pic: Matthias Zomer

An elderly builder has been sentenced to jail after breaching a court order that prevented him from carrying out unsolicited work.

Thomas Gumble, 79, received four years’ imprisonment for fraud and defying a criminal behaviour order from February 2015 when he admitted to duping elderly victims in the Norbury and Thornton Heath areas.

Gumble, of Strathdon Drive, Tooting, conned victims out of thousands of pounds under the name TG Gardening. A statement from Croydon Council described him as a “rogue trader” who cold-called and ‘door-stepped’ his victims, visiting their homes uninvited to ask what work they needed doing.

Strathdon Drive in Tooting where Gumble lived Pic: Google

Within months of his 2015 order, Gumble visited an elderly female resident to ask if she had any gardening work she needed doing, Croydon Crown Court heard.

Over the following months, the victim wrote over £21,000 in cheques to have rubbish and building waste cleared from her front and back gardens, shrubs cut, turf laid, brickwork patched up, and fencing repaired.

Gumble was reported to police after the resident’s family heard in summer 2016 how much money she had paid for the work.

Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said: “Having previously admitted preying on some of our borough’s most vulnerable residents, and being given a criminal behaviour order, he immediately went out and carried on as if nothing had happened. These were despicable and callous crimes which the judge has, quite rightly, viewed extremely seriously.”

“I’d appeal to people to look out for their elderly relatives or neighbours to protect them.”

Thomas Gumble Jr., 30, was also charged, after clearing his grandfather’s cheques through his own bank account to hide his income.

Gumble was the first person in London to receive a CBO for a trading standards prosecution. Prior to his 2015 reprimand, he regularly cold called an 89-year-old widow over a seven-year period, receiving payments amounting to more than £26,000. Another victim paid £8,000 just for two garden beds to be filled with concrete.

Elizabeth Cookson, 89, told the Croydon Guardian in 2015: “I was a bit shattered and I felt I had been a bloody fool. It was a horrible feeling that he had taken advantage like that.”

Leon Livermore, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Chief Executive, told East London Lines: “Rogue traders often target some of the most vulnerable people in society. Having witnessed first-hand as a trading standards officer the misery a rogue trader can inflict on a person, I’m happy to see a positive result. Consumers should remain vigilant and do their homework.”


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