Cowboy builder caged over �35,000 con of Welwyn Garden City couple

A COWBOY builder who “made nightmares come true” for a Welwyn Garden City couple, has been caged for a year.

Luton Crown Court heard on Friday how Jennifer Gray and Malcolm Nicholson had scrimped and saved to be able to afford an extension to their Salisbury Road home.

They employed Roger Preston, trading as Reece Construction, to carry out the work.

Preston, 51, of Waverley Road, Tottenham, was found guilty at an earlier hearing of three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

He had agreed a fixed price of �35,500 to build a kitchen, study and garage after being shown plans, the court heard.

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He wrote the contract and the couple relied on him to honour what was agreed.

The written contract was purposely vague, incomplete and inconsistent.

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It stated a garage door was to be fitted but made no reference to the garage itself, which was clearly shown on the plans.

There was nothing written that specifically described the actual job as a whole.

The vagueness allowed Preston the opportunity to extort further payments for so-called “extras” that should have been part of the contract, for which the couple paid to keep the work going.

There was even a written demand for payment for building the garage for an extra �12,500.

In midwinter, with no roof on the buildings, Preston said he would do no more work until he was paid more money, and the couple sought help from trading standards officers.

Preston told the court it was his job “to make people’s dreams come true”.

Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, judge Richard Foster said Preston had instead made their nightmares come true.

He added: “I would be failing in my duty if I did not send you to prison.”

County councillor Keith Emsall, executive member for community safety, said: “This is a warning to other cowboy builders who seek to take advantage of people in a vulnerable position.

The action taken by the court reflects the seriousness of the offences committed and serves as a deterrent to anyone thinking of committing similar offences.”

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