Wirral builder 'conned' vulnerable customers
13 Apr 2018
A builder has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for committing fraud against four Wirral residents.
In a prosecution brought by Wirral Trading Standards, Colin Maxwell of George Road, Hoylake - who traded as ‘Household and Building Repairs - appeared at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing this week having already pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 13th March 2018.
Maxwell had admitted quoting for work and taking cash from customers while having no intention to carry out the job as quoted.
In some cases, once customers paid him the money, they didn’t see Maxwell again. Those who received some work were left with half-finished jobs for which they had to pay someone else to finish off. One of his victims was in his 80s and another was seriously ill and undergoing constant medical treatment in hospital.
In sentencing Maxwell, His Honour Judge Flewitt QC concluded that there were several aggravating factors in Maxwell’s case. These included his fraudulent behaviour over a substantial period of time, the number and vulnerability of the victims, the considerable detrimental effect of his behaviour on the victims and the fact that in 2008 he had given an Undertaking under the Enterprise Act 2002 not to engage in behaviour similar to the allegations that he pleaded guilty to in these proceedings.
A spokesperson for Wirral Trading Standards said: “Whilst most traders carry out their business lawfully and treat consumers fairly, Trading Standards will always look to act against the minority of traders who target vulnerable people and act dishonestly.”
HHJ Flewitt QC described Maxwell’s conduct as “seriously dishonest” and that he had acted in this way from the outset. His failure to provide customers with a notice of their right to cancel the contract, by virtue of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 was done dishonestly and was not an oversight.
HHJ Flewitt QC stated that Maxwell’s customers trusted him and that he had “conned” them. The term “conned” was an accurate description of the way he treated his customers, the judge said.
HHJ Flewitt stated that the case passed the custody threshold and that Maxwell’s offences were worthy of a custodial sentence. However, to do that would deprive him of employment and his ability to pay compensation to his victims.
He was instead sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, with a discount of five months due to his early guilty pleas. This resulted in a 10 month custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months. He was also sentenced to a 15 day rehabilitation requirement and told to undertake 240 hours unpaid work.
The Judge made compensation orders for all victims totalling just under £6,000, with a victim surcharge on top of that.