Norfolk builder accused of leaving customers out of pocket warned custody ‘inevitable’ after conviction
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
A builder accused of leaving customers out of pocket with shoddy or unfinished building work has been warned a custodial sentence seems 'inevitable' after he was convicted.
John Miller, of Three Mile Lane, Costessey, specialises in house extensions, but customers had complained about nine of his projects, costing £250,000 in total.
The 46-year-old has been on trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of fraudulent trading and money laundering, which he denied
The jury of eight men and four women took more than five hours and 13 minutes to reach their verdicts in the trial which has lasted almost four weeks.
They found Miller guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading and another count of entering into or becoming involved in money laundering.
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He was found not guilty of one count of participating in a fraudulent business.
Following the jury's verdicts Judge Stephen Holt said: 'It seems to me a custodial sentence seems inevitable'.
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He adjourned sentencing until February 20 to allow victims the chance to complete victim impact statements and detail the 'full horrors of what they've been through'.
Miller was granted bail until next month's sentencing hearing.
The trial had heard how Miller had made a 'stream of broken promises' to clients, leaving them out of pocket and with unfinished or shoddy building work.
Alison Lambert, prosecuting on behalf of Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards, said Miller did not complete the work properly, leaving customers stressed and having to pay out thousands of pounds to get the work finished by other builders.
During the trial the jury were told how Michael Whitmore and his partner Hayley Dyball decided to build a single storey extension in 2017, at their Taverham home, after seeing an extension he built for another customer.
The court heard the couple also got Miller to fit a new kitchen and paid him £18,075 but were left with a large number of issues were left when Miller stopped working on the site.
Mr Whitmore said so far they had spent a further £6,000 on jobs, which they had to get loans and put on credit cards.
Miller's wife Catherine, 38 had faced a single count of money laundering, which was a joint charge with her husband, but she was cleared on the direction of Judge Holt earlier in the trial.
In July last year we reported how Thorpe St Andrew businessman Nick Chudasama took Miller and his business HLD Construction Limited to court in January 2016 claiming he was owed £14,000, with legal costs, for a house extension which went wrong.
Mr Chudasama won the case, but more than two years on he said and he has only received £1,200 back.
'We agreed a payment plan but the payments received thus far barely cover legal costs,' he said.
And even with a county court judgement in his favour, it could take years to recover the money in full.
Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: 'We first had complaints relating to Mr Miller in 2015. As more reports came to us it painted a clear picture of a trader who was regularly carrying out work that fell far short of acceptable standards. Work often ran months over schedule and in many cases was never completed at all. With the number of complainants willing to testify we were able to build a very strong case which has brought this satisfactory result today.'