Rogue trader who left Penn family with 'dangerous' extension jailed for six months

A rogue trader who left a family with a dangerous and near-worthless extension on the verge of collapse has been jailed for six months.

A  view of the unfinished and dangerous extension. Photo: Wolverhampton Council
A view of the unfinished and dangerous extension. Photo: Wolverhampton Council

Luke Roberts, from Stafford, claimed he had relevant qualifications and a team of 10 men when he met with a family at their home in Penn.

The residents, who do not wish to be named, were looking to create an extension to an existing conservatory and hired the 25-year-old.

The family agreed to pay for the work in three equal stages – as well as buy any materials required for the work, including decking and repairs to an electrical supply.

But problems started when Roberts didn't provide any paperwork, asked to be paid in cash each day, and repeatedly asked for a member of the family to drive him to collect building supplies.

The builder, who claimed his work van was being repaired, left the conservatory roof unsupported, removed guttering causing water leaks, left smashed glass and failed to properly install and connect underfloor heating.

Electrical wires were left exposed in the rain, causing electricity to trip inside the home. An outdoor manhole cover, required for drainage, was buried, and due to faulty plumbing work the family was left without central heating over Christmas.

Roberts then stopped turning up to work or would arrive asking for more money for repairs, causing the family to feel pressured into making payments.

The family consulted other builders who said the work so far was dangerous – leading them to ask him not to continue unless the existing problems were resolved first. But Roberts stopped responding to messages altogether and never returned for the property.

Incomplete and unsupported decking which eventually collapsed. Photo: Wolverhampton Council

Roberts was paid £1,160 for his work, with the family forking out £6,602 on the materials and a further £6,989 to put it right with another builder.

Wolverhampton Council's trading standards were informed by the family, who instructed their employed building surveyor, Derek Bate from Barnsley Bate, to asses the property.

Mr Bate found Roberts’ work to be wholly inadequate, of little to no value, in breach of Building Regulations and in real risk of collapse.

His report stated that he had not found any element of the work to be adequate noting that "every part of the work contains significant defect."

Live wiring left incomplete and open. Photo: Wolverhampton Council

Roberts, of Calf Barn, Coton Hall in Coton Clanford, Stafford, was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on September 4 to six months in prison – and is the subject of a criminal behaviour order (CBO) for 10 years.

He had pleaded guilty to engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence and to engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action at a previous hearing on July 17.

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment at Wolverhampton Council, said: "I'm very pleased justice has been done in this case.

Gap in the guttering which ran alongside the extension. Photo: Wolverhampton Council

"Rogue traders cause a huge amount of upset and stress to their victims who have worked hard and saved to pay for what they think will be improvements to their homes.

"It is so important that we highlight cases like this to ensure other people remain vigilant. I sympathise with anyone who falls victim to rogue traders and suffers the emotional and financial damage their careless actions cause.

"As a council, we have a duty to protect consumers from traders who break the law and carry out sub-standard work.

"I would like to place on record my thanks to the council's Trading Standards team for their efforts in bringing some justice for the family that has been so badly let down."

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