A rogue builder pressured a Brighton couple into handing over thousands of pounds after he ripped up their garden then doubled his bill, a court heard.
Myley Connors, 19, pleaded guilty to defrauding Dr Arsinah and Dr Ambrose Boles at Brighton Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The couple were left more than £20,000 out of pocket – by handing over £10,000 for worthless work, and for the cost of putting right the damage Connors and his crew wreaked.
On Monday, the court heard Connors had came round within minutes of being called by Dr Arsinah Boles after she was given a leaflet advertising his company, Fine & County Paving.
Prosecuting, Wesley Potterton said Connors verbally quoted £10,000 for a wide range of work, which Dr Boles and her husband Dr Ambrose Boles agreed to, and said work could start the following Monday.
She asked for a written quote, but none appeared – and when the workmen turned up on Monday, Connors told her there would be significant delays if they didn’t start work straight away.
The written quote eventually arrived the day after – but was for £19,500, and less work than agreed the previous week.
By this point, the couple’s garden had been ripped up “with no rhyme or reason”, with earth taken away at an “alarming rate”.
Dr Boles was then pressured by the workmen to sign the written quote – and when she called Connors, he told her “No love, you just need to sign it right now.”
Mr Potterton said: “Within minutes of her signing, the defendant is knocking on the door demanding immediate payment of £5,000 which is something they had not agreed to pay in advance.
“They’re told if you don’t pay up, we will smash everything up and take back all of the rubble and dump it.
“She called 999 but were told it was a civil matter, but to call back if it escalated. So they made the transfer to Myley Connors.
“The defendant then returned later that day saying they wanted a further £5,000 in two days.”
By this point, fewer people were on site, and Arsinah was reluctant to hand over any more money, but her husband felt they had no choice. After the second payment, work all but ground to a halt.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s trading standards then became involved, and Connors eventually left the site on 3 May.
A trading standards inspector visited and estimated it would cost £11,500 just to repair the damage so the work the Boles originally wanted could begin.
Connors, of Peeks Brook Lane in Horley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation after charges of blackmail, aggressive trading, misleading trading and racially aggravated harassment were withdrawn.
Charges of aiding and abetting the fraud against his father Edward, 53, also of Peeks Brook Lane and brother Michael, 21, of Brookwood Lye Road, Woking, Surrey, were also withdrawn.
The court heard Connors has offered to repay the money through his solicitors, and has agreed with the city council he will not work in Brighton and Hove for five years.
Defending, Paul Turnbull said: “A number of traders appear in this court and show no remorse. This defendant is in a completely different category.
Adjourning the case for a probation report, chair of the bench Alison Musker told Connors he would be wise to start paying back the money before he is sentenced.
She said: “Any steps that will be taken will be seen more favourably by the sentencing court.
“You have said fine words and there’s find intentions, but I think that next court will want to see evidence that it’s happening.”
The case was adjourned until 8 December at Brighton Magistrates Court.
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