Dishonest builder received £ 25,000 in payments but left the house without a roof and claimed he had cancer


A roofer who left thousands of pounds for his clients has been brought to justice.

Roofer Joseph Gardener left homes in disarray after doing substandard work or not completing the work at all.

He left a client with tiles falling from his roof onto the common driveway; another with a hole in the ceiling of his bedroom; another was forced to climb up to his roof in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm, after the tarp came loose from his roof.

But Gardener, 35, of East Avenue in Billingham, accepted payment for the materials and continually asked his clients to pay the next installment despite not showing up to do the scheduled work.

Gardener gave his angry clients a variety of excuses, even telling one he had cancer.

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Teesside Crown Court has heard that a victim broke down after Gardener, of J&J Roofing, failed to complete work on his house.

In a statement, the owner told the court he had “worked solidly for three months, 12 hours a day without socializing to earn money for a new roof and converting an attic.”

But Gardener did not show up on January 17, 2020, to start the work, despite the money for the materials having been paid.

The owner met the builder in the pub and Gardener promised he would start on January 20.

He then requested additional payment.

The gardener started the work but on January 25 the victim found a hole in the ceiling of his room.

On February 10, the victim climbed to the roof at 3 a.m. because the tarp the gardener had left had come off.

The man asked for his money, and Gardener came in and finished the job – but a few days later there were more problems.

One of Joseph Gardener’s unfinished works

There was water flowing down the walls and lightings.

The owner had to go back to his parents and ask another builder to redo his roof.

The second builder said: ‘it was the worst job he has ever seen’.

Other victims ended up with problems, including a roof that encroached on the neighbor’s property by 12 inches; water damage to rooms after Gardener left a house without a roof for a month; and third-party workers showed up to demand payment when the gardener had already been paid for the work.

Another victim spoke of “lying in my bed staring at the ceiling and wondering if he would fall into it.”

Among other excuses, the gardener said his van had been broken into and his tools stolen. He then asked for money to buy replacement equipment.

He also said his wife was rushed to hospital; that he had no internet and a flat tire.

Prosecutor Anthony Pettengell said Gardener received just under £ 25,000 in payment from nine separate clients, for work he had not completed or which had been completed well below standard.

Roofer Joseph Gardener admitted nine counts of fraud after taking money for work he did not complete
Roofer Joseph Gardener admitted nine counts of fraud after taking money for work he did not complete

Gardener pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud between August 2019 and December 2020.

Defending the roofer, Chris Baker told the court Gardener’s life had been “a disaster for several years.”

He had inherited the business from his father, but did not fare well when his father passed away in 2018.

Judge Anthony Hawks told Gardener he was not going to send her to jail: “You should have realized in the state you were in that you weren’t able to do this work.

“It is a sad business, sad for the nine people whose lives have been disastrously affected.

“Sending you to jail would mean you can’t offer any compensation.

“But I have to be realistic, it’s better that you keep paying at a level you can afford rather than making unrealistic offers to compensate.

“That doesn’t stop these people from seeing you in county court.”

The judge sentenced Gardener to nine months in jail, suspended for 18 months and an order with a 30-day pardon requirement.

He ordered Gardener to reimburse half of what he paid – £ 12,350 – to his clients through monthly payments of £ 750.

The judge added: “None of your clients are a person of significant means. You, through a mixture of fraud, dishonesty and incompetence, have terribly abused your client’s trust.

“You can leave the wharf. Hope we never see you again.

After the case, the Stockton Council also issued a statement. Councilor Steve Nelson, a cabinet member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said he hoped the case would serve as a warning to traders to take their responsibilities seriously.

“Mr. Gardener’s actions have caused his clients significant financial and emotional distress,” said Councilor Nelson.

“I hope the conditional sentence, pardon days and compensation order handed to him serve as a lesson that traders must take their legal responsibilities seriously or face the consequences in court.

“The council’s business standards team always investigates reports of substandard work. We advise residents who want to make improvements to their homes to get at least three quotes for the work, to ask their friends for recommendations. and their families and take their time to make a decision.

“Also, large sums of money should not change hands until the job has been completed to your satisfaction.”

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