Gas engineers Phillip Kitson and Christopher Kitson appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court in a case brought following an investigation by Dudley Trading Standards.

The court heard Phillip Kitson was trading as Gastek Solutions Ltd at the time the offences were committed. The 41 year-old employed his brother as a gas engineer in the company.

In October 2018 Phillip Kitson attended the home of a 78 year-old woman from Kingswinford whose boiler had stopped working. He quoted her £1,950 to replace it and demanded payment in cash, the court heard.

After speaking to her family the pensioner decided not to go ahead with the work – but Phillip Kitson bombarded her with demands for cash, claiming she had signed a contract and threatening to involve debt collectors.

The invoice was not paid after the consumer’s family got involved and contacted trading standards.

A few months later, in February 2019, Christopher Kitson attended a home in Dudley where the boiler had stopped working. After carrying out an inspection he advised that it would be best to have the boiler replaced – and quoted approximately £4,500 for the work, the court was told.

The consumer paid a deposit of £200 – but a few days later found a lever at the side of her gas meter had been knocked out of position and was restricting the supply. The court heard when the lever was moved to its correct position the boiler began to work again, so she rang Phillip Kitson to cancel the order.

He agreed but claimed the deposit was non-refundable. The court heard he then later sent an invoice demanding payment in full for the installation of the boiler, instructing bailiffs in a bid to enforce the alleged debt.

A complaint was made to Dudley trading standards, and a subsequent investigation saw the brothers charged with a number of unfair trading offences.

Phillip Kitson, of Heath Lane, Summerfield, Kidderminster, pleaded guilty to eight offences of unfair trading at a previous court hearing in January 2020.

He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and to pay costs of £3,100.

Christopher Kitson, of Wendover Road, Rowley Regis, was found guilty of fraud and three offences of unfair trading following a trial in June.

The 37 year-old was sentenced to an 18 month community order and to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, as well as paying court costs of £8,000.

Councillor Ian Bevan, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: “This is yet another example of the excellent work done by our trading standards team to ensure residents are protected from rogue traders.

“Without their intervention, these two brothers may well have pocketed thousands of pounds for carrying out work that did not need doing.

“Instead, they now have a prison term hanging over them if they step out of line again, as well as a hefty bill to cover the costs of taking them to court.”