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Fraudster jailed for £1.5million renewable energy and home safety scam

A fraudster who conned elderly and vulnerable residents out of £1.5 million for renewable energy and home safety products has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, and banned from company directorship for 10 years.

Robin MacDonald, aged 45, of Park Row, Bretby, Burton-on-Trent, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, along with charges of fraudulent trading, following a five-month trial at Nottingham Crown Court where more than 200 victims gave evidence.

Leicester Time: Fraudster jailed for £1.5million renewable energy and home safety scam
Picture: Robin MacDonald

Thirty-two of the victims were from Leicestershire, and between them, they lost more than £285,000 to the fraud.

Between 2014 and 2015, MacDonald repeatedly mis-sold products including solar panels and emergency medical buttons through his businesses Sunpower Renewables Ltd and Stirling Technologies Ltd, trading as Proshield Alarms.

MacDonald was prosecuted following an investigation led by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigations Team East Midlands.

Sunpower Renewables sold renewable energy products to customers, and its sales representatives often bullied and pressured victims into signing contracts for works which were then completed to a poor standard. In some cases, the works created structural instabilities in the homes where works were carried out.

Proshield Alarms promised customers round the clock safety through products which would supposedly alert emergency services in the event that their alarm system was triggered. Victims were misled through deliberately false statements made by sales representatives and the marketing brochures.

Roy Hancher, 54, of Light Ash Lane, Coven, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and Nicola Mather, 44, of Spindletree Drive, Derby, pleaded guilty to money laundering prior to the trial.

Louise Boyall from Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards said: “Leicestershire Trading Standards welcomes the successful prosecution led by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigations team.  Following an exhaustive investigation involving Trading Standards Officers from across the East Midlands authorities, this investigation concluded in a prosecution which will prevent many more vulnerable people falling victim to these fraudulent companies and their promoters. 

“This was a complex investigation and involved many witnesses, without whose evidence, the convictions would not have been possible.

“The scale and diligence of the investigation reflects Trading Standards’ continued commitment to tackling rogue traders affecting our residents, and the sentencing imposed properly reflects the seriousness with which the courts will treat such offending.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “MacDonald and his associates preyed on and took advantage of vulnerable people – stopping at nothing to get what they wanted.

“Lingering in the homes of their victims for hours, they bullied customers – many of them elderly – into signing contracts at vastly inflated prices for products they didn’t want or need.

“I hope that the sentences handed down today will provide some solace to the victims and serve as a powerful deterrent to anyone hoping to make money from fraudulently selling renewable energy and home safety products.”