5:05pm Friday 30th August 2013
By Graeme Hetherington
A DODGY builder has narrowly avoided prison after pleading guilty to conning a pensioner out of £7,500 for work he never even started.
John Randall was ordered to pay back his victim all of the money within two years and was given a six month sentenced suspended for 12 months when he appeared before Teesside Magistrates’ Court today (Friday).
His victim, Gwendoline Lamb, wept with relief at the back of the court when the 57-year-old of Westerham Grove, Middlesbrough, was told by District Judge Andrew Meachin that he was lucky to escape an immediate prison sentence.
Speaking outside the court, Miss Lamb was delighted with the news that she should get all of her money back.
She said: “I’m delighted that the judge seemed to listen to what I wanted, he said that the most important thing was that I get my money back and he is right.
“This has been going on for two years and I had to suffer two of the coldest winters in recent times with windows that were dropping out.
“I feel very let down by Randall and I just hope I got all my money back.”
The court had heard how Randall had initially taken a £2,500 deposit in October 2011 for work he intended doing for Miss Lamb on her Middlesbrough home but nothing ever happened.
Prosecutor Anne Mitchell said the dodgy builder had returned in March 2012 to ask for more money so that he could order the windows, resulting in Miss Lamb handing over a cheque for £4,000 and £1,000 in cash.
Randall, a joiner of 30 years’ experience, said it had been an accumulation of problems that had resulted in him pocketing the money and accepted that he had not carried out the work.
At an earlier hearing he had pleaded guilt to a charge of fraud by false representation.
Representing himself, the defendant said: “It has never happened before and it will never happen again – I can assure you of that.
“I would just like to apologise to Miss Lamb for what has happened.”
An impact statement from the victim was handed into the court for the judge, probation and defendant to read prior to sentencing.
Judge Meachin said: “I’m not sending you to prison straight away, but I must say it has been a difficult decision to make. She has lost £7,500 due to you and you will pay that back.”
AS well as the suspended sentence, Randall was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group