Hartlepool builder fined after creating nightmare summerhouse for OAP couple

The case was dealt with at Teesside Magistrates' Court. Pic: Google Maps.
The case was dealt with at Teesside Magistrates' Court. Pic: Google Maps.

A Hartlepool company boss has been fined more than £11,000 after misleading an elderly couple into buying a summerhouse.

Paul Joseph Vokes, 46, director of Home Cabins Ltd of Cresswell Drive, appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

He was ordered to pay over £11,000 in fines, costs and compensation.

Now trading standards officials at Hartlepool Borough Council - who mounted the successful prosecution - have pledged to continue taking action to protect residents against rogue traders.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said “The Trading Standards department will always stand up for residents of the town, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, and we will not allow them to fall prey to unscrupulous traders such as Mr Vokes.

“Despite the elderly gentleman suffering from a number of serious illnesses, Mr Vokes refused to allow his evidence to be presented in a way that would have avoided the need for him to attend court. This created a great deal of stress for the couple, only for Mr Vokes to then turn up at court and plead guilty.

“What was supposed to be a dream summerhouse turned into a nightmare for this couple and they are now faced with having to have it pulled down and replaced.

The victims, who are both pensioners, needed something that would be suitable as the man suffers from vascular dementia, diabetes, heart disease and uses a wheelchair.

They engaged Mr Vokes in May 2017 but he provided a structure that was of poor quality and only around half of the size of what had been promised.

Once he decided he had finished the job - and despite the couple having paid more than the agreed price - Mr Vokes became abusive, demanded a further £1000 and made threats against the couple, including a comment that he hoped the elderly man would not live long. The additional money was paid on the understanding that Mr Vokes would return and fix what was wrong but he was not seen again.

A chartered surveyor who inspected the summerhouse, ruled that it needed to be dismantled.

The spokesman added: “Cases like these are tragic for those involved and we would urge anyone who has concerns that they may be a victim of someone like Mr Vokes to contact Trading Standards on (01429) 523362.”

Earlier this year, in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive, Mr Vokes received an 18-week prison sentence after he had blocked a gas vent while carrying out roof work at an elderly lady’s home.