A GROUP of corrupt builders have scammed innocent victims out of £114,000 for jobs they never completed, including a paraplegic man and his cancer-stricken wife.
The four men, who were members of a home improvement firm, have now been jailed after pocketing the cash and leaving eight separate customers “financially broken” in their wake.
Ronald Johnson, 67, Robert Johnson, 33, Richard Blundred, 33, and Kristoffer Henshall, 31, overcharged clients, asked for money upfront, demanded further payments, and left jobs unfinished.
Judge Jonathon Salmon jailed the crooked group, calling their work “dishonest behaviour over a sustained period of time.”
The quartet were under investigation by Staffordshire County Council.
One councillor described their actions as “truly wicked” where they “prey[ed] on the most vulnerable in our communities”.
The victims were Christopher Stott, a paraplegic Cheshire man who paid out £15,000 for home improvement work for himself and his cancer-stricken wife.
The work remains incomplete and Mr Stott believes the actual cost to be nearer £30,000.
An ex-serviceman injured in Northern Ireland also paid £15,000 for work in Stoke-on-Trent which hasn’t been finished.
An Eaton Park couple have been left out of pocket and with an incomplete extension.
Peter Tansey, a paramedic in Newchapel, paid out £17,000 and has been left with an incomplete single-storey extension.
Reverend William Johnson, of Barlaston, forked out around £50,000 to put right incomplete work. He had paid £25,000 to the defendants.
A Stoke-on-Trent woman secured a £5,000 judgement against the men after £2,180 of kitchen and bathroom works were not completed. It remains unpaid.
Sheila Smith, of Fenton, paid £8,500 for her 95-year-old dad’s wall to be rebuilt and Matthew Hancock, of Stafford, paid out £5,000 and has also been left with an incomplete job.
The builders, all from Clayton, pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent trading and misleading customers.
Robert Johnson and Blundred pleaded guilty to a charge of fraudulent trading between April 25, 2016, and April 23, 2018, by misleading customers when they carried out work for JB Home Improvements Limited.
Kristoffer Henshall admitted fraudulent trading between February 16, 2018, and July 20, 2018, and engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action between April 26, 2016, and April 23, 2018.Ronald Johnson admitted engaging in a commercial practice which was ‘misleading’ and ‘aggressive’.
Jailing the defendants, Judge Jonathon Salmon accepted that some work was started with the intention of completing it.
But he added: “That rapidly turned to dishonest intentions to fob customers off to abandon the contract.
“This was dishonest behaviour over a sustained period of time.”
Ronald Johnson was jailed for three years and seven months, Blundred for three years and six months, Henshall for 15 months and the younger Johnson for 14 months.
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Councillor Gill Heath, cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards, said: “What these men did was truly wicked, preying on the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Not only did they mislead customers about the work they promised to do but when they were questioned about the work, they tried to bully their way out of it.
“The sentences reflect the dim view the courts take over such dreadful trading practices.”
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