Justin Hindry, the man who once paid staff wages out of his own pocket and vowed to get torched Aylsham Kitchen and Bathroom back up and running
07:00 04 September 2014
His actions ultimately cost many of them their jobs, but Justin Hindry was once thought of by his staff as providing an environment which was the “best place they had ever worked”.
The business had been established and made into a thriving concern by Mr Hindry’s father, David, 33 years ago, and was passed down to the younger man on his father’s retirement, with his two sisters as partners.
But while Mr Hindry kept the business going, making a profit every year except for one year shortly after the economic crisis, the father-of-three had a darker side as a problem gambler.
His double life saw him lose about £61,000 at one casino between 2005 and 2011, £55,000 at another and about £12,000 in betting shops.
Speaking to the court earlier in his trial, Mr Hindry said he was a professional gambler, but denied he had any gambling debts.
He said he earned about £50,000 from his gambling, and said he played mainly at casinos in the Great Yarmouth area.
Mr Hindry’s online profile on Myspace shows a series of pictures of expensive sports cars, a Porsche garage and one of him with a car and three blonde models.
It also shows him in evening dress, enjoying drinks with his friends.
In the months leading up to the fire, Mr Hindry, who is married with three sons of school age, had put £26,000 of his own money into the business to help with cash flow.
But fraud investigators discovered Mr Hindry’s income from the business did not support his outgoings.
His business had struggled with creditors chasing for payment.
The year before the fire the business had made a turnover of £2.2m and one member of staff had been at the business for 29 years, and another for 23 years.
After the fire – and before criminal charges were mounted – Mr Hindry vowed to have the kitchen and bathroom business back up and running in nine months, and organised meetings with planners and staff to keep people informed.
At the time he had said the fire was a “massive shock”, but added: “We are positive people who aren’t afraid of hard work. We will get the business back up and running. It will come back from this.”
He said he had loyal customers which the “strong, stable” business needed to go on serving.
He was confident that within three to four months building work would begin.
But it was not to be, and the site has now been sold to an unknown buyer.
Andrew Westwood and Trudi Bradley are co-owners of Heatcraft Anglia, based next door to Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre.
Mr Westwood had described the fire as intense, and said Mr Hindry had looked upset.
Mr Hindry had also owned a static caravan in Haven Seashore Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth which he had bought on a £30,000 finance deal.
The caravan was burned in a fire in November 2011, but Mr Hindry, who was initially charged, was acquitted for the arson.
He had been offered £25,000 for a new caravan by his insurance company but asked to take a lower cash settlement instead.