A “cowboy builder” who left a homeowner with a dangerous conservatory deemed beyond repair was only spared jail because of his age.
Judge Jonathan Carroll described the work carried out by David Scott Thompson’s company Energy Solution Home Improvements as shoddy, incompetent and negligent from start to finish.
Sentencing the 71-year-old to a 12-month supervision order, Judge Carroll described the company as a “cowboy operation,” and added: “Were you younger I would not have hesitated in sending you down.”
Durham County Council prosecuted Thompson, of Chopwell Gardens, Gateshead, after the homeowner lodged a complaint with Trading Standards.
Problems cited with the £6,400 conservatory included: electrical sockets coming away from the walls; out of line steps; floors and plaster work which were not level; a loose and non-air tight roof; out of line joints; and boards covering the guttering.
The complainant, from Leadgate, first contacted Energy Solution Home Improvements after a leaflet was posted through his door.
The court heard this contained untrue statements, including false claims that all of the windows would be triple glazed when they were actually double glazed or made from polycarbonate sheets. It also claimed the firm was a family-run business when it was operated solely by Thompson.
When Thompson visited the homeowner with a colleague, he assured the customer the conservatory would be “beautiful” and said the fitter had 30 years’ experience.
An initial price of £5,600 was agreed to be paid in three instalments. This was later increased to £6,400 after the homeowner opted for a larger conservatory.
Work began on 17 August 2016 and took more than six weeks – twice the time a project of this size would usually take.
Unhappy about the quality of the work, the homeowner telephoned Energy Solution Home Improvements numerous times, and on 23 October a labourer returned and plastered around the sockets and laid some concrete.
The homeowner continued to contact the firm but no-one returned his calls. Last year, he launched a civil claim against Energy Solution Home Improvements and was awarded a total of £4,539.49 including costs.
Durham Crown Court heard this debt was yet to be paid.
Thompson pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; contravening the requirements of professional diligence; and engaging in misleading commercial practise.
The court heard Thompson was remorseful, in poor health and unable to repay anything of significance.
As part of his supervision order Thompson must complete ten rehabilitation requirement days with the Probation Service. He must also pay £500 compensation and was made subject to a three-month curfew requiring him to remain at home between 8pm and 8am.
Joanne Waller, head of environmental health and consumer protection at Durham County Council, said:
“This prosecution and the comments made by the judge show how seriously breaches of consumer protection legislation are taken by Trading Standards and the courts.
“This customer was left with a conservatory that was not only of an inferior quality to what he was promised, it was dangerous.
“We will always seek to protect law abiding traders and consumers, and those who fail to deliver what they promise should expect to face the consequences.”