A Bridgwater plumber who tried to con a pensioner out of hundreds of pounds has been ordered to pay £5,000 after pleading guilty to fraud.

Gary Coombes, a central heating engineer trading as Hi-Tech Heating, was prosecuted by Somerset County Council Trading Standards officers for charging the 70-year-old woman £392 for work he never carried out.

Coombes, who changed his plea shortly before trial began, admitted to fraud by false representation and was sentenced at Taunton Magistrates’ Court.

He was fined £1,500, ordered him to pay £3,000 towards the County Council’s costs and £500 compensation to the victim.

She became suspicious while inspecting the work after paying the bill for fitting a new Honeywell valve, and made a complaint. An investigation found the valve had not been replaced, but a £15 motor installed instead.

David Hall, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: “Somerset consumers employing local tradesmen should be able to expect them to act with honesty and integrity. I hope that this prosecution sends a clear warning to traders who are tempted to breach that trust. The Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme that is being rolled out in Somerset will assist consumers in identifying reputable tradesmen.”