A BOGUS landscaper who conned East Renfrewshire customers out of thousands of pounds has avoided jail.

Michael Fennell ripped off a 61-year-old retiree and a couple with two young children, as well as three other victims elsewhere in the west of Scotland.

Between April 2018 and December 2019, he raked in a total of £10,005 for work that was never carried out.

Fennell, 59, admitted five charges of fraud at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

The first victim was Paul McMurdo, who hired Fennell to do landscaping at his home in East Kilbride after posting an advert on MyBuilder.com in March 2018.

He was quoted £2,000 by Fennell, who asked for a £300 deposit in advance.

Mr McMurdo handed over the cash on the promise the work would be completed before June.

However, the landscaping was not carried out and Fennell ignored his text messages.

Mr McMurdo then contacted Action Fraud Scotland and the police to report Fennell.

The second victim was 61-year-old Mary Catherine, who hired Fennell to do landscaping at her home in Thornliebank in February 2019.

She was quoted £3,300 for the job but Fennell requested a quarter of the cash up front, amounting to £825.

The cash was transferred but, again, the work was not carried out.

Prosecutor Sat Singh said: "She made numerous attempts to contact him and received a number of excuses as to why the work could not start."

Minor work was carried out in May 2019, after Miss Catherine had asked for her money back, but no-one returned to complete the job and the matter was reported to the police.

In the spring of 2019, Mario and Fabrina Fionda hired Fennell to do work on their garden in Newton Mearns.

The trio agreed on a fee of £8,700 but Fennell later asked for half of this up front.

Dad-of-two Mr Fionda agreed he would pay if there was evidence of work being done or materials ordered.

Fennell sent a copy of a list of materials and asked for the cash before receiving £4,375.

Mr Singh said: "Over the next 10 days, no work was carried out. Mr Fionda told Fennell that he no longer wished for him to carry out the work and requested the money back.

"This was not done."

In August that year, Carol Enderby was quoted £2,300 for landscaping at her home in the Govan area of Glasgow. Fennell requested £575 before asking for a further “interim payment” of £805.

She too was given “reasons” as to why he did not turn up to do the work.

The last victim was Reece Gayler, who was quoted £3,125 for landscaping his garden in Port Glasgow in September 2019.

He paid the full total in two instalments for work to begin in November but it was not carried out and he reported the matter to the police in January 2020.

The court heard that Fennell, from Johnstone, has since made efforts to pay the money back.

Sheriff Charles Lugton fined Fennell £3,125 and ordered him to wear an electronic tag for 90 days, which means he must stay indoors between 7pm and 7am.