A PLUMBER who tried to con a woman in her 70s 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, Quantock Way, was prosecuted by Trading Standards officers from Somerset County Council for charging the Bridgwater woman £392 for work he never carried out.

He admitted dishonestly making a false representation at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The woman became suspicious while inspecting the work after paying the bill for fitting a new valve in June 2010, and made a complaint.

An investigation by Somerset Trading Standards found the valve had not been replaced, but a £15 motor installed instead.

Coombes changed his plea shortly before his trial was due to begin last week.

Cabinet member for Trading Standards, David Hall, said after sentencing: “Somerset consumers employing local tradesmen should be able to expect them to act with honesty and integrity.

“I hope 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.”

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