Biggin Hill builder jailed for leaving homes uninhabitable
A BUILDER who took more than £280,000 from vulnerable customers for uncompleted work, leaving some homes uninhabitable, has been jailed.
John Guerin, 56, of Victoria Gardens, Biggin Hill, traded under several company names between 2006 and 2010 using similar tactics on each of his victims.
Bromley Trading Standards said Guerin quoted for building works and entered into contracts where, having received 90 per cent or more of the payment, he would abandon the works.
Judge Heather Baucher at Croydon Crown Court heard Guerin avoided paying VAT by telling many of his victims he was under investigation by the taxman.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
In one case, a customer contacted Guerin for an extension to accommodate her father-in-law who suffers from Parkinson's disease.
Judge Baucher said it "beggared belief that he would inflict such harm."
The court heard consumers were forced to leave homes destroyed by poor workmanship and in some cases emergency structural work was required.
Skips were also not paid for and the contents dumped on the victims' drives.
The prosecution said Guerin had carried out a sustained and sophisticated crime over four years.
In mitigation, his defence said his low charges for works had placed him in financial difficulties.
Judge Baucher sentenced Guerin to five years' jail last Monday (April 23) for each of ten charges of fraud and one of obtaining money by deception, to run concurrently.
She disqualified him from being a company director for ten years and summing up said: "Nothing will compensate the victims for the distress and misery caused."
The total amount paid by victims was more than £370,000, of which £280,000 is estimated to have been spent on unfinished works or construction of a poor standard.
However the real cost is thought to be much higher due to remedial works, some of which were paid by homes being re-mortgaged.
Bromley Council has made a Proceeds of Crime Application, to seize assets from Guerin, which is due to be heard in February next year.
Cllr Tim Stevens, public protection and safety portfolio holder, said: "We are delighted with the outcome of this case and the time is now conducting a financial investigation into any financial gains made so the council can seek to recover any sums that were overpaid. The outcome of this case sends out a very strong message that we will not tolerate criminals preying on Bromley residents and our Trading Standards team are doing everything humanly possible to make sure that the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice."
A team from Channel 5's Cowboy Builders programme were also present at the court as they previously featured one of Guerin's victims.
An update will be aired later this year.