A ROGUE builder who defrauded three households by taking money for work which was never carried will have to pay £57,000 to his victims.
Trevor Anthony Lawrence – who is also known as Trevor Fail – pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading at Leicester Crown Court this week, following an investigation brought by Leicester City Council trading standards officers.
The court heard how Lawrence, aged 58, was living in Bakehouse Lane, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, at the time of the offences, and had been trading under the name of Max Crest.
Lawrence, who now lives in Spain, was charged under the Fraud Act 2006 in relation to home improvement works in Hamilton, Leicester, as well as at two other addresses in London between January 2016 and January 2018.
Leicester Crown Court heard how Lawrence obtained large sums of money for home improvements which were either never carried out or done to a very poor standard. He also took payment for materials which he never provided or even purchased.
Investigations into Lawrence’s business began after a customer reported concerns to Leicester City Council in 2016, and two more victims came forward via Action Fraud in 2018.
In one instance the investigator was provided with a fake invoice for goods. Evidence also showed that Lawrence had submitted no tax returns during the period when the fraud was taking place.
The court was told how Lawrence had a long previous history of fraud offences committed under the name of Trevor Fail, had been made bankrupt on a number of occasions and was a disqualified company director at the time of the most recent offences.
This week, His Honour Judge Spencer KC sentenced Lawrence to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years. As part of his plea, Lawrence will pay back £57,000 to the victims. Charges against two other defendants, one of which had since died, will lie on file.
Leicester City Council’s trading standards manager, Ronald Ruddock, said: “Home improvements frauds cause a great deal of inconvenience and distress to the victims.
“It important that householders do not pay up front for works that have not yet been undertaken. Only pay after works are completed and do not transfer large amounts of money upfront in the hope of saving money further down the line.
“Make sure you carry out checks on the builders before employing them - information can be found on Companies house, the registry trust and you can make general searches of the internet and that the contract is in writing.
“We are pleased that in this case, the defendant will pay back money he took from the people he defrauded.”