Suffolk rogue builder who took nearly £600,000 for Italian Grand Prix trip and holidays to Gibraltar is jailed
A rogue builder who took nearly £600,000 from customers to finance a lavish lifestyle which included a trip to the Italian Grand Prix and holidays to Gibraltar has been jailed for more than four years following an investigation by Suffolk Trading Standards.
Alan Middleton and his wife Katie enjoyed the trips, regular visits to London, hiring caravans, and had shopping excursions before finally being caught and jailed at Wood Green Crown Court in London.
It was found that the 45-year-old, formerly of Saxmundham near Framlingham, had taken around £592,000 from customers when he traded under names including G & K Builders, Middleton Building Services, AGM Custom Construction and AGM Bespoke Construction Limited.
Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said:“Middleton is a greedy man who thought nothing of exploiting his customers, many of them using their life savings or taking out loans to pay for the work to achieve their dream home.
“He was utterly unscrupulous and did whatever he could to extract money from them.
“This included falsifying invoices to claim £170,000 in VAT despite not being registered, forging insurance documents to mislead people into thinking their properties were protected, and endangering lives by incorrectly stating building control was not required for projects when this was in fact needed.”
Mr Middleton admitted to five counts of fraud by false representation, one of theft, one under the Insolvency Act for obtaining payments over £500 whilst an undischarged bankrupt, and one offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act for setting up a limited company as a bankrupt.
Suffolk Trading Standards began its investigation after receiving reports of customers who had paid for building work only for it to have been never completed.
Middleton told his victims he would only work on one property at a time, but they quickly became aware he was working on multiple projects to the detriment of their own building works.
Once Middleton realised Suffolk Trading Standards was investigating him he reverted to using the name Alan Middleton for business, having previously used Gary Middleton.
His 34-year-old wife also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulently obtaining a mortgage for themselves worth £400,000.
They pretended they were not in a relationship and that Mrs Middleton earned a salary of £108,000 to obtain a mortgage, something that would not otherwise have happened because of Mr Middleton’s poor credit history.
Mr Middleton was jailed for a total of four years and six months and disqualified as a director for five years by Recorder Sailesh Mehta.
For fraudulently obtaining a mortgage, he was jailed for 12 months, to run concurrently.
Mrs Middleton received a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140.
Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public health and public protection, said: “Middleton is now reaping the consequences of his actions and I hope his sentencing goes some way towards providing justice for those he exploited.
“Customers trusted him, but he abused that trust in a way that left them picking up the pieces.
“Not only would he disappear part-way through a job, causing untold distress when his victims had to finance the completion of his work, what work he did carry out was often to a poor standard.”
Anyone who believes they may have been the victim of a fraudulent or substandard trader should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.