Published: Monday, 21st Oct 2019

A prolific rogue builder, who conned vulnerable Bolton homeowners out of their savings, has been jailed for three years.

Stuart Magrath, 39, from Wigan, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court earlier this month where he pleaded guilty to running a business for a fraudulent purpose.

Together with his co-accused William Greenall, Magrath operated SB Building Services between May 2016 and April 2018.

The firm mainly targeted pensioners across the North West, with Magrath using aggressive sales tactics to get victims to agree to unnecessary work.

The court heard that work was then poorly done, left unfinished and in some cases never even started.

In total, the pair took £50,000 from 14 homeowners across the region.

Among his victims was a Westhoughton resident who paid £8,500 after she was cold called by Magrath in July 2016.

He spent an hour pressuring her to agree to roof repairs.  

Building experts later concluded that the repairs were unnecessary and that the work was so shoddy that additional expense was needed to correct it.

Money was also taken for rendering work that was never carried out.

Another vulnerable Bolton resident described how Magrath knocked on her door on twelve occasions before she finally answered in December 2016.

She agreed to pay £1,500 for home repairs after Magrath claimed to have done similar work for several of her neighbours.

After the victim discovered this was a lie she attempted to cancel and get a refund, only for Magrath to make a drunken and abusive phone call to her at 1am.

Jailing Magrath for three years, Judge Stuart Driver QC described how his crimes had harmed his elderly victims both financially and emotionally.

Greenall, 60, of St Helens, who carried out the building works, was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 140 hours unpaid community work.

The prosecution case was brought by St Helens Trading Standards with evidence collected by Bolton Council and other local authorities.

I urge all residents to follow official advice and never deal with cold callers.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Regulatory Services, Cllr Anne Galloway, said:

“This reprehensible rogue trader deliberately targeted the most vulnerable members of our community.

“He was motivated only by money, with no regard for the quality of the work done or the devastating effect his crimes had on his victims.

“Bolton Trading Standards will take robust action against anyone who tries to exploit vulnerable residents in this way.

“I urge all residents to follow official advice and never deal with cold callers.”

Anyone concerned about rogue traders operating in their area should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.