A Sunderland builder who failed to finish a kitchen extension despite receiving £27,800 must now work for free within the community.
Michael Anthony Fagan, who runs company Swift Construction NE Ltd was engaged to extend the kitchen of a property in January 2017.
Fagan, 35, of Linfield, Ryhope, began work on the property in Ouston, near Chester-le-Street, in March of that year which was expected to take five weeks at a cost of £34,600.
However, the project soon fell behind schedule, with labourers failing to show up and Fagan becoming increasingly difficult to contact.
By April, Fagan had stopped responding to calls and texts, prompting the victim to contact Durham County Council’s Trading Standards team.
The victim also wrote a letter to Fagan telling him he was in breach of his contract but the builder never replied.
Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe heard Fagan had received payments of £27,800 by this point, but only the demolition of the existing extension, groundworks and steel lintels had
This meant £17,000 of the money was accepted fraudulently.
The victim had no choice but to pay another company £17,620 to finish the extension, adding an additional £11,820 to his original quote of £34,600.
Swift Construction NE Ltd was dissolved on June 6, 2017, but further investigation revealed the intention to dissolve was filed on March 21, 2017, while Fagan was still working on the
The victim also paid £8,000 towards the second stage of the work after this date and was not informed of the company’s position.
Fagan pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation.
The court heard Swift Construction NE Ltd had been a successful company, with good reviews online, but personal difficulties had led Fagan to employ others to carry out the
He accepted he should have completed the job and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Fagan was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay the victim £11,820 in compensation.
Owen Cleugh, consumer protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “This prosecution demonstrates that we will take action against people and businesses who intentionally defraud their customers in County Durham.
“This incident left the victim almost £12,000 out of pocket and by doing so caused a great deal of frustration and anxiety.
"We will always seek to protect law abiding traders and consumers, and those who fail to seek to mislead and behave fraudulently should expect to face the consequences."