Costessey builder in court accused of ripping off clients

A man denied the ill-treatment of three people in his care when he appeared at Norwich Crown Court.

A man denied the ill-treatment of three people in his care when he appeared at Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd

A builder has gone on trial after allegedly making a 'stream of broken promises' to clients, leaving them out of pocket and with unfinished or shoddy building work.

John Miller, 46, carried out construction work in the Norwich area, mainly on house extensions, taking cash up front from customers for work which was either never finished or of bad quality and cost thousands of pounds to put right, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Alison Lambert, prosecuting, told the jury there were nine building projects involved amounting to £250,000 and said: 'The prosecution say that John Miller ran his business in a manner which was fraudulent trading and he did this over a period of years.'

She said Miller, who used the names HLD Construction, HLD Construction Ltd and JGM Construction, 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.

'He [Miller] required upfront payment for work and was not using the money for that purpose. He failed to carry out the work with reasonable care and skill and failed to carry out the work in reasonable time, if at all.'

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Ms Lambert said one job Miller said would take 10 to 12 weeks was still unfinished 37 weeks later.

She said customers had to make large stage payments in advance and the work over ran by months.

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Ms Lambert said if customers did not come up with further payments he threatened to walk off the job, which put customers under undue pressure.

She said: 'He indicated he would not continue with the work unless he was paid.'

She said that customers also felt that cash they gave him was used to keep other projects he was working on going, and that one job left a mother with a new baby without heating.

Another customer, Nick Chudasama, said that Miller had made a 'stream of broken promises' over an extension at his home, the court heard, which he then had to pay thousands to another builder to put right.

Ms Lambert said the jury would also hear from building experts about the shoddy work carried out by Miller, which she said fell far below an acceptable standard.

Miller, of Three Mile Lane, Costessey, has denied fraudulent trading.

He along with his wife Catharine, 38, of the same address, have also denied a single charge of money laundering.

The trial continues.

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