Builder handed suspended sentence after attempt to fleece a homeowner foiled

A builder who tried to con a homeowner out of thousands of pounds has been jailed for 10 months, suspended for 18 months following a hearing at Manchester Crown Court.

Officers working for Manchester City Council’s Trading Standards Team learned that in October 2018 a homeowner in Crumpsall had contacted Didsbury Plumbing and Heating Ltd for a quote to repair some damp. 

While this initial quote was for just £8,000, as work began, the company and its director - Malachy Joyce, 36, of Parrs Wood Road, Didsbury - persuaded the homeowner to pay for additional, and potentially unnecessary home improvements. 

This included the installation of new central heating, plastering and decorating most rooms, drainage works, electrical works, and new carpets throughout the house. 

The homeowner was charged an extortionate £75,000 for this work, however she only paid £37,000. 

Independent surveyors assessed the smaller amount was the true value of the work carried out.

Charges made by Joyce included £4,793 for unspecified ‘site management’ and a grossly overinflated subcontract of £21,000 for plastering and damp proof course works. 

Unfortunately, despite Council officers’ best efforts this subcontractor has not been traced. 

The Council was first alerted to this criminal behaviour when a member of staff at a local HSBC noticed that the homeowner was withdrawing large sums of cash from her account, not in keeping with her usual financial habits. 

This was flagged up with the Council’s Trading Standards Team, as well as Greater Manchester Police and Social services. 

Didsbury Plumbing and Heating Ltd and Joyce pleaded guilty to three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, 2008, and were sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, May 28. 

In addition to his suspended sentence, Joyce was ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service. 

An undertaking was also signed by Joyce and his company ensuring that neither party could pursue the homeowner for any additional fees. 

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods said: “This was a disgraceful attempt to con a resident out of tens of thousands of pounds. 

“The value of the work carried out was grossly over-inflated and were it not for the conscientious behaviour of local bank staff, this resident could have been left financially ruined. 

“I am pleased that our officers and legal team were able to secure this conviction and prevent this criminal coming after the homeowner for any more money.”

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