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A gang of cowboy builders have been convicted of fleecing home-owners living on the South coast out of nearly £1 million for work they never did.
The builders quoted for contracts totalling £1.8 million and collected as much cash up front as possible before leaving their victims “in the lurch” and disappearing.
Mark Dixon, 43, Nicholas Harris, 45, and Matthew Higgins, 33, were found guilty by a jury at Bristol Crown Court of a charge of conspiracy to defraud after a three-month trial.
The men showed little emotion as the verdicts were read out, but some relatives in the public gallery sobbed. Co-accused Leighton Docksey, 34, and Lee Ireson, 30, were found not guilty.
The men ran two linked firms called Construction Management Development Ltd and CMD Services Ltd to con more than 50 people across the south of England out of more than £900,000.
Opening the case for the Crown in September, Prosecutor Rupert Lowe said:
“Their business was to get as much money out of their customers as quickly as they could and leave them in the lurch with a half-finished project and in a mess. They were left out of pocket by the greed and dishonesty by the five men in the dock. They found it was a very profitable way of doing business.”
The gang targeted home owners who had been granted planning permission for extensions. They claimed to be specialists at one and two-storey extensions. Once a contract was signed the gang would get their victims to hand over a deposit of between 10% and 20% ahead of work starting.
Dixon, of Ash Lane, Down Hatherley; Harris, of Ash Path, Upton St Leonards; Higgins, of Nelson Street; Docksey, of Bathurst Road, all Gloucester, and Ireson, of Benhall Gardens, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham, all denied a charge of conspiracy to defraud between April 2005 and October 2007.
After 44 and a half hours of deliberations, the jury of eight men and four women unanimously found Dixon and Harris guilty. Higgins was convicted by a majority of 10-2, while Docksey and Ireson were acquitted.
The men deceived residents in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, West Midlands, Bristol, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, and Kent.
Sentencing was adjourned to a date to be fixed.