A rogue builder who fleeced a customer out of thousands of pounds has been handed a heavy fine.

Thomas Cash, of Elmgrove Road, Harrow, took advantage of an unsuspecting victim by demanding £3,000 in cash when he was offered work in their garden.

After pocketing the money, he vanished days after starting the job, leaving the garden in a dreadful state.

Following the investigation by Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, the 27-year-old was fined £9,326 for his actions.

Keith Ferry, responsible for planning at Harrow Council, said: “This is what we do – we defend our residents in court from the unscrupulous and the exploitative.

“This rogue trader’s behaviour goes beyond unprofessional greed. It is criminal behaviour, and thanks to the hard work of our Trading Standards officers we have won justice for his victim and made him pay for his crime.”

Willesden Magistrates Court heard how Cash quoted the work at £4,200, including labour, materials and cleaning up the property.

He then bullied his victim into handing over £2,000 on the first day and later demanded more money before he had laid out the foundation.

Harrow Council offers general advice on how to avoid being scammed by rogue builders, such as never agreeing to work from a cold caller and never offering money upfront.

It also advises that people, where possible, use the recommendations of others and pay by cheque or credit card.

In this instance, the victim also required planning permission for the work and the council urges everyone to double check this requirement before proceeding.

To report a rogue builder or for further information, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.