‘Cowboy builder’ cheated family out of £46k and spent it on his own mortgages
A ‘cowboy builder’ who did a runner after cheating a devastated family out of £46,000 and leaving their home wrecked spent the cash paying off his own four mortgages.
Jamie Thompson, 46, was contracted to build an extension in the Stockton home in 2017 so that elderly relatives could come and live with the family.
They grew concerned after nine agonising months of forking out cash did nothing to improve Thompson’s shoddy craftsmanship and slow work pace.
After a host of issues including a run-in with the council, the family were eventually forced to face the undignified ordeal of visiting other people’s homes to use the bathroom.
Meanwhile the fraudster eventually dropped his tools and never returned, leaving the house a building site.
Thompson appeared at Teesside crown court on Friday to be sentenced for one count of fraud and two counts relating to consumer protection regulations.
Prosecutor Joanne Kidd said he had been instructed to start work in January 2017, but nothing happened until April.
“Over the course of the agreement, they put in over £46,000,” Ms Kidd said.
“The total, final cost was £50,275, so they had paid just short of £4,000 of the full contracted price.”
Ms Kidd said: “Despite the concerns, the family continued to pay him any money he set out for materials or wages for staff.”
Questions were also raised after Thompson demanded money for a boiler that was to be fitted in an area of the home that wasn’t even completed.
But Thompson made a phone call where he appeared to be ordering the boiler, but one had never been bought, ordered or supplied.
Thompson was also contracted to carry out work in the home’s bathroom – that was never completed either.
The family had to end up forking out over £1,300 for the bathroom to be sorted by someone else.
Thompson also assured the family he would deal with all issues relating to building approval applications with Stockton Council.
But in July 2017, when the job had been under way for three months, a council representative turned up at the home saying no application had been submitted and that work should not have started.
It later turned out that the extension was in close proximity to a large public sewer and that Northumbrian Water would have had serious reservations about work going ahead.
Finally, in September 2017, the family felt they were “stuck between a rock and a hard place” and were frightened that Thompson would abandon the project if they had a falling out with him.
Thompson insisted the building work would be completed by November 2017, so the family agreed to pay £1,500.
At the end of their tether, the family finally complained to Trading Standards about the nightmarish saga.
Instead of facing his responsibilities, Thompson left the site and never returned.
All attempts to contact him for a refund failed and when they turned up at his home, he was seen ‘ducking behind furniture’ in a cowardly bid to avoid detection.
The family subsequently had to pay for a planning application to be lodged with the council, but that was refused due to the sewer issues.
As a result, the experience left one family member with ‘severe depression and anxiety’ and they cannot afford for the building work to be corrected as it would cost over £64,000.
The family told the court they felt ‘humiliated and embarrassed’.
In mitigation, defence barrister Christine Egerton said Thompson ‘takes full responsibility for his actions’ and ‘wishes to apologise’.
“He is ashamed of what he did and accepts that at the time of the offences he had no thought for the victims”, she said.
She said Thompson was splitting up with his wife at the time and had had a ‘breakdown’ which led him to taking cocaine and drinking.
Passing sentence Judge Jonathan Carroll blasted Thompson as a ‘cowboy builder’ and said his offer to pay back the family at a rate of £250 was ‘derisory.’
He said Thompson had admitted he knowingly took money that was ‘not intended for building work’.
The judge added Thompson was using the money to ‘fund alcohol, drugs and your four mortgages you had to pay.’
Thompson was jailed for 13 months and two weeks.
After the hearing, Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “Mr Thompson’s actions have not only taken thousands of pounds out of the pockets of customers and left them with completely unacceptable unfinished work but they’ve also caused a lot of worry, stress and upset for people who placed their trust in him.
“The prison sentence handed down in court today has been a long time coming but it should serve as a warning to fraudulent traders that they will be made to face the consequences of their actions.
“Our Trading Standards officers will always robustly investigate reports like this and I’d like to remind traders of legal responsibilities.