A notorious TV repair conman from Birmingham is back behind bars for the second time after being caught once again ripping off more than a hundred customers across the country.
In June 2005, father-of-three Gurdave Sharma, 38, was fined almost £4,000 for a string of offences under the Trade Descriptions Act.
At the same time Trading Standards officers at Birmingham City Council won an order forcing him to return customers’ televisions in working order and repair them at a reasonable rate.
But complaints about him continued to roll in, sparking another prosecution in March 2006, when Sharma was jailed for 12 months after being found guilty at Birmingham County Court for breaching the order.
In August 2006 another order was made under the Enterprise Act 2002 against Sharma, banning him from continuing to rip-off customers.
However, within months of being released from prison Trading Standards officers were again being flooded with complaints by outraged customers reporting Sharma was back to his old tricks.
Sharma has now been sentenced to 15 months in prison admitting six counts of breaching the 2006 order.
It comes in the same week that Sharma, in a separate matter, pleaded guilty at Sefton Magistrates Court in Liverpool to four counts of stealing TVs, for which he is due to be sentenced on April 20.
Birmingham County Court heard how Trading Standards officers had received more than 160 complaints since 2009 from disgruntled customers of Sharma’s firm, which was based in Washwood Heath Road, Washwood Heath, and operated under different names across the country such as Northampton TV, Blackpool TV and Peterborough TV.
Barrister Jonathan Davis, prosecuting on behalf of Birmingham Trading Standards, said the complaints included TVs not being repaired with reasonable care or skill, sets not being returned to customers, and advertisements for Sharma’s firm being misleading in that they insinuated the company was local to areas across the country, when in fact it was based in Birmingham.
“Many of these cases often involved vulnerable or elderly people,” he added.
He said Trading Standards gave Sharma “considerable indulgence” by offering to help him correct his mistakes and deal with customers’ complaints, but despite this he failed to attend meetings and “ignored their compassion”.
Asking permission to address His Honour Judge Worster, Sharma said: “I have deep regrets for the distress I have caused.
“Given the chance I would like to apologise in person to each of the customers I have upset.
“I am really sorry for my actions and I promise I will never work as a TV repairman again.”
Hooked up to an oxygen tank, Marcia English, Sharma’s partner of nine years and mother to their 21-month-old daughter, appealed to the judge to be lenient, claiming she suffered from a degenerative lung disease and had been given just a few years to live.
“I rely on Gurdave to help me with the baby and my own personal care,” she told the court. “I can sit down and play with the baby but when it comes to lifting her, bathing her, waking up with her in the night and carrying her around I rely on my partner.”
Barrister Suzanne Hodgkiss, defending, said: “My client has been reckless to a certain extent, but he has been a fool to himself.
“He said his actions were not deliberate, it’s just his incompetence that has put him in this position.
“His remorse is genuine, he is determined this is now where it must stop.”
Speaking outside court, Vir Ahluwalia, team manager at Trading Standards, welcomed the sentence.
“We are pleased the court has seen fit to issue a custodial sentence reflecting the misery he has inflicted on countless customers up and down the country, and those are just the ones we know of.
“It has taken an incredible amount of work to bring him to justice once more and we hope this sends out a clear message to others out there thinking about committing similar illegal activity to think again.
“We urge people only to deal with tradespeople they, or someone else knows, or has used in the past.
“If you can’t do this it is worth doing some quick research before you hand over goods or money to ensure the business you engage with is legitimate and genuinely who they claim to be.” .