A BUILDER has been ordered to pay compensation to two former clients after being found guilty of unfair trading regulations relating to poor quality and unfinished building works on their homes.
On two occasions he told clients he was unable to complete work because he had run out of money.
Stephen Luke Ainsley, 61, of Ashdale Road, Wigan, was found guilty of four unfair trading regulation charges at Warrington Magistrates Court on Thursday 24 March.
Mr Ainsley, who was trading as building firm Sabrik UK, faced four charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, relating to the poor quality of building works carried out at the home addresses of two consumers.
In February 2020, Ainsley agreed to build an extension for one customer and to carry out roofing work for another.
In the first case, Ainsley took a payment of over £7,000 to supply doors and windows, but these were never supplied. He also took payments ahead of work being completed, which, in total was estimated at £17,000. He then informed the customer that he had run out of money, could not to do the work and failed to provide a refund.
In the second case, Ainsley removed the old roof from the consumer’s house, which was then left exposed to the elements for six months, before again telling them he had run out of money and could not complete the work.
In both cases the consumers had to appoint new traders, paying them substantial sums to rectify the incomplete work and weather damage caused by Ainsley’s failure to complete the agreed works.
Ainsley pleaded not guilty to all charges at a hearing at Warrington Magistrates Court in November 2021. Both of the consumers adversely affected by their dealings with Mr Ainsley gave evidence, along with the defendant himself. Mr Ainsley was found guilty on all charges.
The court heard that Ainsley had limited funds available to pay any fines imposed by the court or to compensate the two consumers for their losses.
The Magistrates remarked that, although they were unable to award compensation anywhere near the full amount the consumers had lost, they were waiving the victim surcharge fee and prosecution costs to allow them to award the consumers the maximum compensation they could from Ainsley’s assets, which was £4,000 and £1,000 respectively. It was on this basis that no separate fine was imposed by the court for the four criminal offences Ainsley was found guilty of.
Cllr Hitesh Patel, cabinet member for environment, housing and public protection, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case and that the two customers involved were able to receive compensation for the unprofessional, costly and unfair trading practices of this building firm.
“These kinds of behaviours that take advantage of consumers where they often have to foot the bill to rectify poor or incomplete work, will not be tolerated in Warrington. If you have had a similar experience and need to report a trading standards issue, you can find out more and report an incident on the council’s website.”
Warrington Trading Standards is in partnership with Citizens Advice consumer helpline who provide consumer advice and support for trading standards. For more information, visit their website, complete the online complaint form or phone the helpline number, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0808 223 1133.