Suspended sentences for cowboys builders
TWO cowboy builders have been given suspended jail terms for leaving a Newton Abbot couple with a house which was 'uninhabitable'.
Jayne Thompson, 53, and William White, 50, were also handed community penalties after a fraud investigation by Devon County Council.
The pair, directors of Exeter-based Eaglerock Associates Ltd, failed to exercise 'professional diligence' in dealings with Newton Abbot couple Simon and Rachel Ballamy of Ashburton Road.
The victims were left with a £42,000 repair bill after sub-standard and potentially dangerous work by Eaglerock Associates.
Plymouth Crown Court was told the couple had contracted the company to convert their bungalow into a two-storey property.
But despite taking advance payments of £45,250 the building work that was undertaken quickly fell behind schedule and then stopped.
A lot of the work which was completed was substandard, and all attempts to get the company to complete the contract failed.
When the victims went to court to try to recover their money, they found that White and Thompson had put the company into liquidation.
The Ballamys were left with a property which was uninhabitable.
This was not an isolated incident as further victims were discovered in Cornwall and they told an almost identical story as the Newton Abbot victims.
The court also heard that White and Thompson fraudulently obtained some £5,902.15 from the victims in false VAT payments as they had never registered their company Eaglerock Associates Ltd, for VAT with HMRC.
The VAT number on the paperwork issued to the victims actually belonged to a dissolved company of White and Thompson's called Rosswell Associates Ltd.
The Insolvency Service had already taken action to ban Thompson and White from being company directors as a result of how they had operated that former company.
White was banned for eight years and Thompson was banned for six years after the company went into liquidation in 2008 owing £213,685.
White was ordered to do 200 hours' community service and received a nine-month prison term, suspended for a year.
Thompson received 120 hours' community service along with a six-month prison term, suspended for a year.
Both were also banned from being company directors for a further ten years and will return to court in December to attend a proceeds of crime hearing which will consider compensation for the victims.
The pair were found guilty of two offences under the Fraud Act 2006 in April this year. White also admitted another offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in October 2011.
Mrs Ballamy said: "We are very happy with the way the investigation was conducted.
"We quite like the element of community punishment they have got because we paid them a lot of money to do work for us and the didn't do very much work. Now they are going to do it for the community. The next big date for us is the Proceeds of Crime hearing for which we'll have our fingers crossed for because we haven't received a penny from them so far."