A ROGUE trader conned an elderly couple out of £7,300 to resurface the lane leading to their home and left it potholed and “worthless”.

Within weeks the lane leading to Moss Cottages at Wingates, started to crumble.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Anthony Durrant’s company, North East Highways Ltd, boasted on its website that it acted as a contractor for local authorities - that was a lie.

And Durrant called himself Tony Mills when he called at Ian and Ann Nightingale's home and persuaded them to hire him.

He was so convincing that they even parted with more cash than originally agreed to surface a further area as he said he had some materials left over.

Durrant aged 42, of Selby Road, Arsken, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to four counts of engaging in a commercial act which was misleading. He admitted the same charges on behalf of his company.

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The court heard that Durrant has previously served a two and a half year prison sentence after committing similar offences in Rennes, France, 10 years ago.

Robin Kitching, prosecuting on behalf of Bolton Council, told Recorder Geoffrey Payne how the Nightingales were at home on October 25, 2018 when Durrant and another man in a transit van pulled up and knocked on their door offering to surface the lane.

"Mr Durrant called himself Tony Mills, the name he wrote on the back of a receipt or invoice, that he later gave them," said Mr Kitching.

He told them that the treatment he would use would be suitable for their lane and the Tarmac surface he would lay would last for 10 to 15 years.

The Nightingales agreed to pay him £6,500 because they were concerned about the state of their potholed lane.

"They believed he was a legitimate trader who would do a good job for them," said Mr Kitching.

Durrant brought in lorries and men to carry out the work.

"He then said he still had some materials left and could surface more of the lane if they wanted," said Mr Kitching.

The Nightingales agreed and eventually handed over £7,300, which they transferred directly to his account.

"It soon became apparent to the Nightingales that their lane had not been given a Tarmac surface as promised and that the work was of a generally poor standard," said Mr Kitching.

"Not long after work had been finished the surface began to disintegrate."

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A Bolton Council expert, Malcolm Fairhurst, inspected the lane.

"In summary, he describes the work done as worthless," said Mr Kitching.

"The surface only lasted a few weeks. He gives the opinion that it ought to have been obvious to anyone experienced in this kind of work that what was done was bound to fail quickly.

"It is well known that work of this sort should not be undertaken as late in the year as October because of the temperature."

In a statement the Nightingales said they could not have a holiday as a result of what happened and now feel "foolish" about having trusted Durrant.

John Hurlock, defending, said married father-of four Durrant is now winding up his company and will pay the Nightingales back.

He added that Durrant's wife "has made it a condition of staying with him that he does not engage in this sort of work again".

Recorder Payne sentenced Durrant to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered him to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work plus 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

He is banned from working in the construction industry without gaining approved qualifications and is barred from being a company director for five years.

His company, which he ran alone, was fined £1,250 and was also ordered to pay £7,300 and £6,942.45 in prosecution costs.

Following Durrant's sentencing Cllr Hilary Fairclough, executive cabinet member for environmental regulatory services said that the way he conned two elderly, trusting residents was “despicable”.

“This punishment is well deserved and I’m so pleased that our Trading Standards team were able to track down the culprit and bring him to justice," she said.

"No one should have to put up with this sort of despicable treatment from so called traders, especially an elderly couple who should be enjoying their retirement instead of now living in fear of who may knock at the door.

“Bolton Council will always take action against those who flout the law in this manner.”