ROGUE BUILDER JAILED FOR FOUR YEARS AFTER CONNING HOMEOWNER OUT OF MORE THAN £120,000 – “Work below standard of limited DIY-er”
A rogue builder who lied to, deceived and conned a homeowner out of £121,901 over the course of 18 months has been jailed for four years and three months.
The builder’s invoice indicated he was a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
But an independent survey found the majority of works carried out on the property were unnecessary or had been done in such an incompetent manner that the cost of remedial work to put it right would be as much as £45,000.
And the standard of work was described as “absolutely abysmal” and “below the standard of a limited DIY-er”.
Analysis of the rogue builder’s bank account revealed that in a 15-month period he bought a car, went on multiple holidays and spent freely on eating out, items of jewellery and other non-essential items.
And during the execution of a search warrant at his house, it was discovered that he had a running machine, a home gym, a hot tub, large flatscreen televisions, and designer clothes and electronics, many of which would have been bought with the victim’s money.
The hefty sentence of four years and three months was handed down to the 55 -year-old man from Netherne Village at Croydon crown court on Wednesday (10) after he had changed his plea three days into his trial last month, admitting four of the nine charges he faced.
The court was told that the campaign of deceit and intimidation started in November 2013 when the man, who traded as a firm of builders, visited the resident’s home for payment for work he had completed on another property owned by his victim.
The man convinced the homeowner that improvements to his home would see it increase in value.
Assured that the man had 30 years’ building experience, and remembering that his invoice indicated he was a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, the householder gave him the job of carrying out the improvements.
The rogue builder’s first suggested tasks were the urgent replacement of the roof and repointing of a wall, the cost of both jobs and related scaffolding exceeding £10,000.
The work to the roof had barely started before the rogue builder was finding other jobs to do in the house. He said the chimney was crumbling and in such bad condition that it could collapse, he quoted £9,000 for the repairs.
Thinking the rogue builder’s advice was honest and professional, the homeowner agreed to the demolition and rebuilding of the bedroom walls containing the “crumbling” chimney stack, handing over £20,000.
Over the course of the year from June 2014, the rogue builder convinced his victim that a number of jobs were necessary, some because, so he claimed, it would be dangerous not to do them.
They included the enlargement of the patio and repairs to a brick-built shed in the garden; the continuation of works to the house that had not been completed, due, according to the rogue builder, to more money being needed; the purchase of new radiators, doors, windows and associated materials; and even jobs that Ackerley started without seeking approval.
Each new job was accompanied by a demand for cash, often in amounts of tens of thousands of pounds.
Richard Heller, prosecuting, said: “The property might have needed some work doing to it, but it did not need the extent of the work the defendant carried out.
“The householder was trapped in a home that had been turned into a building site with a builder who was finding one new job after another to start whilst barely finishing any of those he had started.”
In March 2015, the rogue builder’s attitude toward his client changed from one of appeasement to one of intimidation. He claimed that the resident had cost him a job worth £42,000 by bad-mouthing him to his neighbours, but he had done no such thing.
The following month, the rogue builder turned up at the house with his wife. She, too, accused the homeowner of costing her husband a lucrative contract.
She told him that her husband would get angry, at which the rogue builder told her: “He doesn’t know what I’m like.” Mr Heller told the jury that the implication of the remark was clear.
On another occasion, the couple again went to the house and forced their way in, at which point the rogue builder said that failure to pay what he claimed was owed to him would result in the homeowner being “taken into the woods”.
The rogue builder did no more work at the property, as Croydon council’s trading standards team arranged for an independent survey of the property.
The report found that the majority of works carried out on the property were unnecessary or had been done in such an incompetent manner that the cost of remedial work to put it right would be as much as £45,000.
The standard of work was described as “absolutely abysmal” and “below the standard of a limited DIY-er”.
Passing sentence, Her Honour Judge Smaller told him: “Your behaviour is nothing short of disgraceful. “You turned the house into a dirty, dusty, cold building site. “At no point, through either the trial or the sentencing, have you apologised.”
Andy Opie, Croydon’s council’s director of safety, said: “This is a terrible case of a corrupt and heartless builder taking complete and repeated advantage of a vulnerable and trusting householder, creating months of unnecessary work for himself and doing damage to the house that cost thousands to put right.
“Our trading standards officers have done a great job in bringing this case to court, which has resulted in the man being sent to prison, where he can cause no more misery to other unsuspecting residents.”
A spokeswoman for the Guild of Master Craftsmen told News From Crystal Palace: “Thankfully, I can confirm that this company is not a current member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
“We have a website http://www.findacraftsman.com on which you can search all of our current members using either trading names or alternatively postcode areas and trade categories.” (Sources: Croydon council press release / Guild of Master Craftsmen).
BLOOMING LAMBETH – AWARDS, THAT IS
Your nominations are wanted for Lambeth growing, greening and innovation – entry forms in June, prizes in October
We want to recognise and celebrate what people are doing to make Lambeth greener and greater. Take a look at the categories and nominate yourself, your neighbours, a community group, or your whole street or estate as an example of what’s best about Lambeth and the people who live here.
The categories are:
Home in Bloom – for front or back gardens
Community in bloom – if you have an estate or community garden to be proud of
Food growing – your individual (or your neighbour’s) vegetable patch, herb garden, window box or container garden
Innovation – The best initiative or project. Something you or someone you know has done to change things for the better
Windowbox or balcony – Some people can make the most out the smallest of spaces
Community food growing – for the group that gardens together and contributes to the community.
Prize for each category = £100 garden centre vouchers
Deadline to send in a photo of your entry and ‘tell your story’ in three sentences is 16 June 2017.
For an entry form please phone 020 7926 3401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Incredible Edible Lambeth will be judging the entries in each category and holding an awards ceremony at the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace on 12 October 2017.
IEL is a network of food growers and activists working to improve communities. IEL was founded in 2010 and is now a Community Interest Company (CIC) with an experienced team of seven directors and a wide network of volunteers and supporters.
ILLEGAL ROADSIDE CAR REPAIRS COST TRADER THOUSANDS
The owner of a Thornton Heath car-repair business who ignored repeated warnings from Croydon council about allowing work to be carried out on the pavement and road outside his premises has been hit with fines and costs totalling £4,840.
He pleaded guilty to three charges at Camberwell Green magistrates’ court on Monday (15). The court was told that between June and October of last year, council officers, responding to complaints from neighbouring residents, visited the business on a number of occasions.
They issued a community protection notice, giving him 48 hours to comply with instructions to quit works beyond the boundaries of his premises, to remove unroadworthy vehicles from the highway and to clean the public footpath.
He failed to comply, and during each subsequent visit the owner was told that work to motor vehicles should not be carried out on the road outside the premises, and that cars should not be left in such a way that they obstructed pedestrians’ free passage along the footpath.
The bench was told that he had not dealt with debris, oils and other fluids that he allowed to drain away across the footpath, and had failed to pay an £80 fixed-penalty notice issued by officers.
Return visits revealed that the works were being continued and that untaxed, damaged, dismantled and stripped vehicles were being kept on the road and overhanging the footpath, often with sharp-edged jagged metal bodywork that could prove hazardous to passers-by.
On several occasions, cars had been left up on jacks, in a dangerous position.
The premises is located near, and on a busy through route to, the St James the Great Primary School and Nursery, and is passed by lots of young children and families, both in the mornings and afternoons. Officers feared that harm could befall them.
In mitigation, the man told the court that when he had taken over the business he was unaware of the law prohibiting the working of vehicles on the public highway. Once informed, he had tried to ensure that employees did not work on vehicles outside the premises. And he said that he had sent a cheque in payment of the fixed-penalty notice but that it had not arrived.
He told the court that he no longer owned the business.
Andy Opie, Croydon council’s director of safety, said: “This was a case of a local businessman flagrantly ignoring repeated warnings by council officers that what he was doing was both illegal and antisocial.
“His actions made life very difficult and unpleasant for people living nearby who, in addition to being put at risk by what was going on, often could not park their own vehicles near their homes because cars that the owner was working on were taking any available spaces.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
CONTRACTOR SIGNED FOR NEXT STAGE OF FAIRFIELD TRANSFORMATION
Fairfield Halls is about to enter the next stage of its £30m transformation.
As the first phase of refurbishment draws to a close, Croydon Council’s development company, Brick by Brick, has engaged Vinci Construction UK to take the venue through the next leg of its exciting journey to completion in 2018.
Since the venue closed last summer, Brick by Brick has had contractors on site carrying out enabling works to prepare the building for the main structural works.
Over the past 10 months, extensive work has taken place behind the hoardings, including detailed surveys, ground investigations, asbestos removal and the stripping of loose fixtures and fittings, such as flooring, ceilings and soft furnishings.
With these enabling works now entering the final stages, Fairfield Halls is ready for its redesign. Vinci Construction UK will arrive on site this month (May), remaining until the venue reopens at the end of 2018.
Vinci Construction UK was appointed for the Fairfield Halls refurbishment following a competitive tendering process which started in April.
It has worked on several major developments in the borough, including Croydon’s tallest tower, Altitude 25, Fairfield Road and The Ashburton Learning Village, Shirley Road. (Source: Croydon council press release)