Pensioner fights back against ASBO builder

Anne St John, of Lancaster Road in Marton, who had the presence of mind to call Trading Standards while a bogus builder was on her roof.'Anne looks up at her roof.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'27-8-2014

Anne St John, of Lancaster Road in Marton, who had the presence of mind to call Trading Standards while a bogus builder was on her roof.'Anne looks up at her roof. PIC BY ROB LOCK'27-8-2014

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A plucky pensioner turned the tables on a builder who called at her home and tried to carry out work that wasn’t needed.

Marcos Mason – described as a “danger” to elderly people – has now been slapped with an order banning him from cold-calling at homes across Blackpool after quick-thinking Anne St John reported him.

The 73-year-old was not taken in by Mason when he quoted her £350 to repair a supposed fault with her roof.

And when he even tried to reassure her by telling her, ‘I’m genuine, the police know me,’ she called Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards department.

Mason, 51, of Ormond Avenue, Blackpool, has been hit with a five-year Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO) by Blackpool magistrates after he admitted failing to provide written cancellation rights and information which he was legally obliged to is banned from touting for business by cold calling.

And brave Miss St John, who attended the court hearing, is now urging other pensioners to be wary of cold callers.

“This man is sly, sneaky and underhand preying on people like this,” said grandmother-of-three, Miss St John, who used to work in the Burton’s biscuit factory in Blackpool.

“People should be made aware of what he has done and be more careful than I was when answering their door.”

Miss St John told how the incident happened on February 3 when Mason called at her home in Lancaster Road, Marton.

“He said ‘can I come in?’ and stepped inside,” she said. “He said he had noticed something wrong with the roof and that if I wasn’t careful I’d have water coming in through the floor.”

Miss St John wasn’t sure whether Mason was referring to a problem with a crack in her bedroom ceiling and told him her insurance company had already agreed to come and look at the issue.

“He said ‘I’ll just get my ladders and look up in the loft’,” she added.

“He came down and gave me a quote of around £350 but he said he might be able to knock some money off 
because I was a pensioner.

“I told him I’d have to have a think about it but he said he wouldn’t be able to come 
back, which I thought was a bit odd.

“But he was saying, ‘I’m genuine, the police know me’.”

She noticed Mason had done some work to the chimney and, still suspicious, she called Trading Standards and two officers came out.

They believed the work was unnecessary and prosecuted Mason for failing to provide written cancellation rights.

“He was still in the back yard and looked quite surprised when he saw them (the officers) through the window,” added Mrs St John.

“I’m quite angry about it and feel like such a fool for letting him in but he didn’t give me a lot of choice. At least I didn’t give him any money, but the worry is that other people might have done so.”

Mason had previously been taken to court for consumer offences by Lancashire County Council in 2006, and Blackpool Council public protection officers wrote to him in February 2012 to advise him of the law on providing cancellation information rights.

He has used aliases including Mark Mason, Michael Mason, Mark Johnson and Michael Davidson.

Mason admitted the latest offence, having failed to attend an interview under caution and, as well as being issued with the CRASBO, which applies to the entire Blackpool Council area.

He was fined £150 and 
ordered to pay £400 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “Marcos Mason is, we believe, someone who is a danger to elderly and vulnerable homeowners.

“He targeted an elderly 
lady, cold-calling at her home and then proceeding to carry out work without providing written cancellation rights.”

Coun Campbell added that she hoped the CRASBO would prevent Mason from targeting elderly residents again.

She said: “The punishment should serve as a warning to other rogue businesses and tradesmen; if you target elderly residents we will come after you.”

If you have concerns about a trader call Trading Standards on (01253) 478375.