A smooth-talking cowboy builder who left vulnerable customers out of pocket in a £40,000 con while continuing to claim unemployment benefits, is behind bars.
David Kemp took cash from the elderly and disabled for work that was never done, or was completed “below even the most basic levels of DIY workmanship”.
Your victims have been left devastated.Judge Deborah Sherwin
Newcastle Crown Court heard when the victims rang for a refund or to ask when work would be undertaken, the 58-year-old fobbed then off with a series of excuses, including his grand-daughter being in intensive care, his sister having a heart attack and he himself having cancer.
One victim, a former soldier who suffered brain injuries in a road accident, was conned out of £23,000 to refurbish his new home.
Kemp, who was trading as either Double Vision or D and G Builders, had been interviewed under caution in 2013 by Trading Standards officers after complaints in the North East and Kent, where he formally operated.
He signed a formal undertaking that he would work within the law, but carried on the frauds, across Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, regardless.
While continuing to con his customers, Kemp claimed employment support allowance as well as benefits totalling £19,256.
Kemp, of Kinghorn Square, Downhill, admitted fraud, engaging in commercial practice which is misleading, recklessly engaging in commercial practices and benefit fraud, all between 2012 and 2015.
Judge Deborah Sherwin jailed him for four years.
She told him: “Your victims have been left devastated.
“As well as losing money, they have been caused huge amounts of stress, been left feeling like they cannot trust people, in particular, tradesman.”
The charges related to a total of 11 victims, who were all left out of pocket by Kemp’s actions.
Prosecutor Richard Bennett said: “The complaints fell into one or more of the following categories.
“Mr Kemp had taken a deposit to start work, but had never returned to start the work or refund the money that had been taken.
“Or, Mr Kemp had started the work, but had not returned to complete the work. Or, Mr Kemp had performed the building work to a substandard.”
Robin Patton, defending, told the court Kemp was made bankrupt after the property crash in 2008 and turned to loan sharks for help.
Sunderland City Council’s Trading Standards team worked with the authority’s benefits section, Northumbria Police, and the North East regional Trading Standards Team in bringing the prosecution.
Portfolio holder for city services Councillor Michael Mordey said: “The sentencing of Mr Kemp is the result of months of hard work by our trading standards, legal and benefit teams.
“They prepared the case against an individual who defrauded and cheated his customers and the council tax payers of Sunderland.”