John Kenny, aged 51, of Allen Way, Chelmsford, who traded as a car mechanic under the name Grease Monkey's or Gas Monkey's, pleaded guilty to fraud at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday 10Â April. He had ripped off customers, taking money for parts and repairs to their vehicles that were not supplied.
He was first tracked down by Thurrock Council's Trading Standards team in 2013 but told the courts he had dementia. At today's hearing the judge said she was "cynical" of his medical evidence, and Kenny's defence in court no longer advanced that he suffers the condition.
Kenny was convicted of giving customers false information, misleading information, omitting information to deceive, and obtaining money with a promise to supply goods or services but failing to do so.
Sentencing him to 6-months imprisonment, suspended for 2Â years, Judge Leigh said this was the oldest case on the court's books and pre-dated her time on the bench. Handing Kenny his sentence she said: "You are a rogue trader who is cruel and cynical and exploited people."
Kenny was also ordered to pay Â?1,757 compensation and Â?3,000 costs.
A spokesperson for Thurrock Council said: "This rogue trader has attempted to evade justice for many years but thanks to the dedicated work of our Trading Standards officers he has finally been brought to justice.
"We work hard to protect residents from rogue traders and will always prosecute to the full extent of the law."
Residents who want to report a rogue trader should call Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454Â 04Â 05Â 06.