COWBOY builder Robert Coy, as we report today, has been jailed for four months.

We trust readers won’t think us mean-spirited when we say we hope the time passes for him with glacial slowness.

Bearing in mind the predatory ruthlessness with which he defrauded his elderly and vulnerable victims, just about any punishment short of something medieval is justified.

Had this odious creature been jailed for 10 or 20 times as long, he would still deserve no sympathy.

It is a matter of regret that there is currently no provision under law for the Coys of this world to be obliged to surrender everything they own and every penny of income above subsistence level until their victims are repaid for their loss and torment.

We implore readers to bear this case and others like it in mind when choosing a builder or other trader - or when a vulnerable loved one is making such a choice.

The majority of traders are not like Coy. Rather, they are honest, skilled people whose order books are full because of those characteristics.

They despise people such as Coy because criminal elements tarnish the reputations of entire professions.

The best way of finding an honest trader is simply to ask family and friends for recommendations, ask traders for references and follow those references up.