A LANDSCAPER has avoided jail after defrauding customers by selling landscaping services he did not complete or start.

Joe Dallaway, 29, offered landscaping services across Bracknell with his independent business, Legacy Lawn and Landscapes.

However, once customers had paid a deposit to get their gardens done, Dallaway either did not complete the work or did not even start it. He defrauded nine people out of a total of £32,429 across seven households.

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He was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Friday (July 15) to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.

Between June 5, 2021 and February 14, 2022, Dallaway had been trading as ‘Legacy Lawns’ which was registered at his ex-partners address in Crutchley Wood, Bracknell, despite Dallaway being from Crabtree Road in Camberley.

She did not agree to this and the court heard complainants had arrived at her address to complain.

The business was also not VAT registered and was connected to Dallaway’s personal bank account rather than a business account.

During the hearing, the court heard that he had advertised his business on Facebook and Instagram as a legitimate business. Each complainant was given an invoice headed by ‘Legacy Lawns’ with terms and conditions.

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Once agreeing on the work, Dallaway would ask complainants to pay a 40 per cent deposit to ‘secure the diary date’ or to buy the materials needed for the work.

In some cases, Dallaway completed the landscaping work but once reviewed by an expert, the work was deemed as ‘unsafe’.

Dallaway would sometimes start work and leave it incomplete, visit a house to survey the garden but never return, and in some cases he never visited the customer or their home.

The court heard that each complainant has an email chain with Dallaway which was consistent until the deposit money was paid. Then communication would become more infrequent and eventually ceased altogether.

He was eventually interviewed by Bracknell Forest Council where he admitted the business had ceased trading in February 2022 but that he intended to finish the work he started.

The landscaper added that he had ‘lots of issues with his van’, ‘suffered from a grievance,’ and had tried to kill himself.

Dallaway also claimed his bank wouldn’t allow him to access the funds from the deposits to buy material for the work.

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Defending Dallaway, his barrister explained that the business had been legitimate and Dallaway did ‘not set it up with the intent of defrauding people’.

He was charged with one count of fraud and pleaded guilty at the lower court on May 2 this year.