A POOLE businessman was jailed for nine months yesterday after he admitted mis-selling solar panels.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Floyd Lewis, 36, of no fixed abode, had traded under his Poole-based companies Totally Solar and Advanced Solar.

Customers were misled about the solar systems Lewis sold, which were not able to benefit from the government's feed-in-tariff, as he had claimed.

At an earlier hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, Lewis pleaded guilty to nine offences, including seven counts of unfair commercial practices, contravening the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.

The case was brought by Dorset County Council following investigations by their trading standards team into sales to eight consumers in and around Dorset.

Lewis, who was proprietor of the business which operated from Corty (corr) Close at Branksome Business Centre, failed to refund properly cancelled contracts with consumers between March 17 and October 31 2010.

The court was told how his workmen had failed to attend customers’ homes at agreed times, had not completed work and ignored attempts to claim money back. The business no longer trades from Poole and was last known to be operating from an office in Wimbledon.

In his defence, the court was told that Lewis had known he had neglected his duty to his customers but there had been “no suggestion of dishonesty.”

He had entered into contracts he had genuinely sought to fulfil and had apologised to customers in the court’s public gallery. Lewis accepted that he had been “reckless and disorganised,” had employed the wrong staff and “not taken ownership of the problems.”

Sentencing Lewis, Judge Samuel Wiggs told him: “You have shown no regard to the rights of people who suffered at your hands.” He added that the offences were so serious he could not impose the suspended sentence, suggested by Lewis’s counsel.

Speaking after the case, Dorset trading standards manager Ivan Hancock said: "This is one of the most serious breaches of consumer trust we have dealt with in Dorset in recent years.

“It involved significant losses to the consumers involved and repeated failures by this business to deal with legitimate claims for refunds. Clearly the prison sentence illustrates that unfair trading like this is viewed as a serious problem."