Rogue Norfolk builder likely to face prison following guilty verdict
01 February 2019
A judge has indicated that a custodial sentence is likely for a Norfolk builder who was today found guilty on two counts of fraudulent trading, and one count of money laundering, at Norwich Crown Court today, 31 January 2019.
John George Miller (46) of Three Mile Lane, Costessey, Norwich left eight people thousands of pounds out of pocket after carrying out work that was described in court as shoddy and potentially dangerous. John George Miller operated in the Norwich area through his companies HLD Construction Ltd and latterly as JGM Construction Services Ltd.
Judge Holt commended Norfolk County Council Trading Standards for a thorough investigation.
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “It’s thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team that this rogue builder has been successfully convicted for his crimes. In all the cases the crimes led to a lot of stress, distress and considerable financial loss for people who were simply looking to make improvements to their homes.
“I was shocked to hear that in one case a parent was left with a new born baby in a house with no heating or hot water in March for weeks. I hope the result today brings some closure to what has been a very difficult time for John Miller’s customers and should serve as a warning to other rogue traders that they will not get away with crimes such as this.”
During the trial the court heard expert evidence from a chartered building surveyor who had found a long lists of faults with work carried out by John Miller at two properties. These faults included uneven and sloping floors, a front door that had been hung in a frame that was too large with gaps evident when the door was shut, and an undulating wall. On just those two properties the cost of remedial work was estimated at more than £14,000.
Other properties were left with unevenly spaced roof joists, leaking windows and a roof that had started to sag under its own weight. The total cost of finishing or putting right the work carried out by John Miller in just four of the eight homes is estimated to be more than £55,000.
Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: “We first had complaints relating to Mr Miller in 2015. As more reports came to us it painted a clear picture of a trader who was regularly carrying out work that fell far short of acceptable standards. Work often ran months over schedule and in many cases was never completed at all. With the number of complainants willing to testify we were able to build a very strong case which has brought this satisfactory result today.”
The trial concerned a total of nine building projects which were undertaken by John Miller with the common theme that he had quoted low prices in order to obtain work.
The court heard that John Miller ran his business in a manner which constituted fraudulent trading. He persisted in taking on contracts for building work and taking money from customers in the knowledge that he couldn’t complete the work properly or at all.
In addition to being found guilty on two counts of fraudulent trading, and one count of money laundering, John Miller was found not guilty in respect of one charge of fraudulent trading relating to a single job undertaken during 2013-2014.
Two further charges were brought under consumer protection regulations (one for ‘contravening professional diligence’ and one for aggressive commercial practices), relating to the same contracts. These were treated as alternative charges to one of the fraudulent trading charges. As he was found guilty of that charge (fraudulent trading) the jury were not required to return a verdict on the charges under the regulations.
Advice is available from Citizens Advice for anyone thinking of getting building work done, or who has a problem with a builder they have employed. Call 0845 404 0506 or visit the Citizens Advice website.
Norfolk County Council Trading Standards operates the Norfolk Trusted Trader scheme which offers a list of accredited traders, including builders and those in the home improvements sector, which have been checked by Trading Standards. For more information or to see the online directory visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader.