Rogue green energy company targeted elderly

Chantelle Kerry was one of three jailed in Suffolk this week Picture: ARCHANT

Chantelle Kerry was one of three jailed in Suffolk this week Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A green energy business targeted elderly women in a ruthless sales campaign for over-priced solar-powered water heating systems.

The Energie Direct Ltd salesmen cold-called elderly women living alone and used high-pressure and aggressive sales techniques, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

In one case a salesman stayed at the home of a 69-year-old woman from Red Lodge, near Bury St Edmunds, for four hours until she signed a contract.

She paid £6,000 for a badly fitted system that could have have resulted in water becoming infected with Legionella bacteria, said Nadia Silver, prosecuting, for Suffolk Trading Standards.

A 77-year-old Lowestoft woman was wrongly informed she was in danger of “blowing herself up” because her water tank was too close to an electric timer and was told by a salesman to immediately go to go to her bank and transfer £7,500 into the company’s bank account

A suspicious bank employee contacted Trading Standards and the woman was persuaded not to go ahead with the transaction.

Before the court were company director Stephen McCarthy, 32, of New Street, Brightlingsea, and salesman Shane Correia 25, of Hythe Close, Braintree.

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McCarthy admitted six offences under consumer protection legislation and was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay £10,000 compensation, with £3,000 costs, and banned from being a company director for five years.

Energie Direct admitted nine similar offences and was ordered to pay a £5,994 fine and £3,000 costs.

Correia admitted fraud by false representation and asked for six offences committed while he was working for another company to be considered. He was jailed for 46 weeks and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.

Gavin Capper, for Correia, said he was ashamed of what he’d done.

Joe Bird, for McCarthy, said Energie Direct had ceased trading and that McCarthy hadn’t directed sales staff to act in the way they did.

“He set up the company and wanted to do things properly but he didn’t train sales or telephone staff properly and didn’t monitor what was going on in the company’s name,” said Mr Bird.

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