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‘Despicable’ King’s Lynn trader jailed for fraud and pub attack

todayFebruary 26, 2021 10

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A violent and “despicable” Lynn trader who took almost £30,000 for jobs he never started or didn’t complete has been jailed for three years.

Wesley Theobald targeted a large number of victims across Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and London.

The roof repairs and home improvements were often defective, leaving some customers with many thousands of pounds in remedial costs.

Crown Court news. (25608708)
Crown Court news. (25608708)

King’s Lynn Crown Court heard yesterday that Theobald, who failed to declare that he was an undischarged bankrupt, took deposits, exaggerated work needed and left jobs half-done, refusing to return money when his customers complained.

He threatened one such customer – Ruth Taffe, of Newlands Avenue, March – that he would “knock her lights out” when she confronted him at his then home in Buttercup Drive, Swaffham.

The hearing was told of nine separate cases in which Theobald, 30, had responded to tenders for work, mainly on website Rated People.

They included Graham Clements, of Tennyson Road, Lynn, who agreed to a quote of £6,300 for roofing work. Theobald took several payments totalling £3,615 and did some work.

When Mr Clements complained about lack of progress, Theobald made promises about completing the work which he never kept.

Mr Clements paid someone else a further £6,418 to get the work done, the court was told.

Neville Bland, of Norwich Road, Horsted, was another of Theobald’s victims, losing £2,500 and forking out a further £1,300 in remedial work.

Theobald, of Seathwaite Road, had been committed for sentence on two matters. At earlier hearings he had pleaded guilty to carrying on a business for fraudulent purposes between 2017 and 2020 – a prosecution brought by Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standarts department.

And, in an unrelated matter, he admitted causing actual bodily harm to Dale Massingham during an assault in Lynn pub The Eagle.

The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered a nasty head injury when a single punch from Theobald caused him to hit his head on a step to the dance floor, on February 21, 2020.

Sentencing him, Recorder Oliver Sells QC told Theobald: “In the course of conduct, which can only be described as thoroughly dishonest over a long period of time and over a large area from London to Norfolk, you took advantage of members of the public by pretending to do building work on their houses.

“You caused further work to be done and further expenses to be incurred. You extracted nearly £30,000 from people who effectively were at your mercy.

“Your conduct can only be described as despicable. You also carried out a wholly unprovoked attack on another man in a public house.”

In mitigation, Benedict Pears said Theobald had suffered from poor mental health for a number of years.

“Whether that mental health has been exacerbated by drink or drug abuse is unclear,” he added.

Mr Pears said his client, who struggled with finances and acted “impulsively”, had set himself up as a sole trader after losing his job with Smith Building Services but had not done so in order to defraud people.

The court was told that Theobald had received a suspended sentence for using a credit card belonging to the Lynn firm after his employment had finished.

That eight-week sentence was activated on Thursday and will run concurrently with the three years’ custody for the other matters.

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todayFebruary 26, 2021 8