A rogue builder who swindled a Wolverhampton homeowner out of more than £1,000 and then disappeared leaving behind incomplete and defective work has been fined by magistrates.
William Morton, of Wolseley Close, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to carrying out work without professional diligence, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Problems began when the trusting homeowner, from the East Park area of the city, employed Morton to carry out a garage conversion on his property.
On visiting the house, Morton quoted a price of £1,750 and said that the works would be completed within a week. An upfront payment of £1,000 was requested and the customer was told that materials had been ordered ahead of work beginning on 10 November 2018.
On 10 November 2018, Morton arrived on the property and carried out some work over a two-hour period. He then asked for a further payment of £200, which was handed over, and said he would be back the next morning to continue.
Morton never returned to the property and gave a series of excuses as to why he would not be on site, including claiming he had hit his head on a scaffold clip and blaming family difficulties. The homeowner sent a text to Morton explaining that he was in breach of contract and requested a full refund of the £1,200 he had paid, but received no response
Frustrated by the delay and lack of contact, the homeowner then contacted City of Wolverhampton Council’s trading standards team. Trading standards employed a building surveyor to assess the property who concluded that the work was wholly defective, not up to the standard of a responsibly competent tradesman and required removal.
Magistrates fined Morton £570 and ordered him to pay costs of £2,000 and a victim surcharge of £57 within six months.
Councillor Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: "I'm very pleased justice has been done in this case. 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.
"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 diligence in securing justice for the homeowner.
“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.”