Larne painter and decorator faces 75 charges including 'engaging in aggressive practice' against householders

Larne painter and decorator faces 75 charges including 'engaging in aggressive practice' against householders

A LARNE painter and decorator facing 75 charges including 'engaging in aggressive commercial practice' has been further remanded in custody and the case has been sent to Antrim Crown Court.

Stephen Stewart (48), with previous addresses listed on court papers as Blackthorn Rise and Bank Road in Larne, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court via video link form prison where he had been on remand.

He is charged with 53 counts that as 'a property maintenance contractor did knowingly or recklessly engage in a commercial practice which contravenes the requirements of professional diligence'.

Stewart is accused of requiring part or full payment 'up front' from dozens of alleged victims, several of whom are elderly, involving individual sums of up to £3,000 and thereafter he allegedly failed to complete the work within the promised timescale or to the required standard.

The total amounts of money mentioned on the charge sheets run to tens of thousands of pounds.

It previously emerged that the alleged offences covered areas including parts of County Antrim.

He also faces 14 charges of 'fraud by false representation'; four of 'engaging in aggressive commercial practice'; three of engaging in 'misleading commercial practice' and one of possessing 'articles in connection with fraud'.

The specifics of the final charge are that Stewart 'had in your possession or under your control an article, namely leaflets upon which you detailed a 14 day right to cancellation and refund, for use in the course of or in connection with a fraud, contrary to Section 6 of the Fraud Act 2006'.

The specifics of one of the 'aggressive commercial practice' charges are that on July 12 last year he allegedly approached a woman in a shop, following her to her home address, offering a quote for work and requiring an immediate deposit, 'then, by way of persistent sales pitch and persistent presence in her home' allegedly caused her to pay £140 'through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence'.

Another charge alleged that Stewart 'cold called' a man 'telling him you had been on his roof and that he needed work done, demanding £150 payment immediately to secure the quote you provided'.

Another charge again refers to cold calling a man at his home and accuses Stewart of 'applying pressure by forcefully and repeatedly pointing out areas of home improvement that needed attended to and insisting on payment immediately'.

During a Preliminary Enquiry - the legal step to send a case to the Crown Court - a prosecutor submitted there was a case to answer.

The case was sent to Antrim Crown Court on April 5.

  • Main picture: Stephen Stewart.