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Builder used squirrel to trick householders about pest infestation

George Johnston, 34, from Tunbridge Wells, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation Credit: Kent Police

A builder who police said used a dead squirrel to trick householders into thinking they needed to do repair work has been sentenced to 360 days.

George Johnston, 34, of Sandhurst Road, Tunbridge Wells, appeared in custody at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court in Kent where he pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation.

He was sentenced to 90 days for each offence which is to run consecutively.

He was arrested after reports a man had been knocking on doors in Tunbridge Wells offering unnecessary roof repairs, producing a dead squirrel and demanding money to clear a pest infestation, according to Kent Police.

The incidents happened between 19 February and 20 May 2017 in areas including Sandhurst Road and Ferndale, police said.

Defence lawyer Andrew Main said Johnston made £2,130 from the scheme which involved him cold-calling in neighbourhoods and offering to do roofing work.

Johnston said pest infestations needed to be cleared Credit: ITV

He described Johnston as "an over-enthusiastic jobbing builder who has taken his chances and fallen foul of the law".

Mr Main said: "There was an element of genuine work that needed to be done but he acknowledges there was an element of exaggeration and he pleads guilty to the frauds."

Chairman of the magistrate's bench Beverley Charman said he had targeted "older" victims and failed to respond to warnings from Trading Standards.

He was ordered to pay a total of £2,330 in compensation to three of his victims, £115 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Johnston is serving a prison sentence for assault and the sentence was imposed concurrently on that.