Dodgy builder jailed over £40,000 fraud and shoddy construction work which left families in distress

A cowboy builder with no experience of the construction trade has been jailed for more than two years after duping customers out of almost £40,000.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:20 pm

Anthony James Gray, 57, from Topaz Close in Hartlepool, defrauded a collective £39,600 from victims over a two years.

Gray, who traded as Cathedral Home Improvements Ltd, agree to a loft conversion at a customer’s Wheatley Hill home within her £8,000 budget.

He failed to provide a full contract and the woman became reluctant to make further payments due to the tardy nature of the work.

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The case was heard at Durham Crown Court.

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An invoice had a different company name on it, with Gray saying he was in the process of changing it, but it was found to be his previous employer, who had sacked him.

A Durham County Council building inspector confirmed no application was made for building regulations, nor had an initial notice been submitted by an approved inspector, deeming the work “unsatisfactory”.

The conversion was restarted and the victim had to seek a loan for the work.

A leaflet Gray used to advertise his business.

A couple in Sherburn Village hired Gray to install sunroom and despite an agreed price of £12,000 and foundations being laid, Gray failed to return, saying he was unwell.

The work was completed by a third party for a further £8,000, with the couple losing £7,200.

The council’s Trading Standards Team investigated and Gray admitted holding no building qualifications and “wasn’t very good at running a company”.

It was found he misrepresented his accreditation by third party organisations, such as Secured by Design.

Gray was jailed for 27 months at Durham Crown Court after admitting one count of fraudulent trading and four counts of fraud, with three further offences of fraud taken into consideration.

In mitigation, counsel for Gray said there was no similar offending and his activities were initially legitimate.

Owen Cleugh, the council’s public protection manager, said: “Gray’s actions have caused a lot of distress to his victims, who believed they were going to have work carried out on their homes to a safe and satisfactory standard.

“He knew he did not have the required skills or expertise to complete the home improvements, yet still chose to accept payment for them.

“We hope that the lengthy prison sentence handed out in this case acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of engaging in similar activity.”

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