Victims of a cowboy builder who caused ‘untold misery’ to customers applauded as he was sent to jail for five years.
Wayne Smith ripped off customers across Sheffield and South Yorkshire, as well as people in Cheshire, to the tune of an estimated £170,000.
Smith, aged 47 and of Doncaster Road, Barnsley, was the ‘controlling mind’ behind two construction firms, Build4 and Constellation Construction - despite being banned as working as a company director after previously going bankrupt.
His wife Lisa, who was originally charged as part of the case but found not guilty of any offence after the prosecution decided not to offer any evidence against her following her husband’s guilty pleas, acted as a company director.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how he ripped off 14 customers - in some case for as much as £30,000 as he either took deposits for work he never carried out or started home improvement works but did not complete jobs he had been paid for.
In one case, he left one vulnerable customer’s house in a ‘virtually uninhabitable’ state, while many of his victims had to pay out thousands of pounds to reputable tradesmen to complete the work he had promised to do.
His crimes continued even after being interviewed by Sheffield’s Trading Standards team in April 2014 about his conduct.
David Hercock, prosecuting, said Smith admitted in a later police interview he had been ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ due to the financial difficulties his companies were in.
Mark Ford, defending, said Smith had previously been a successful builder but developed an alcohol problem around 2006 leading his workmanship to deteriorate. He said Smith’s business was also affected after he was featured on BBC show ‘Cowboy Builders’.
Judge Recorder Simon Batiste told Smith: “I’m told the money is now all gone.
“These offences have caused untold misery. I’m satisfied you are a thoroughly dishonest man.
“You let time and time again members of the public pay money for work that was either not carried out at all or left incomplete.
“You have no-one to blame but yourself for where you find yourself now.
“All of this behaviour occurred against a background where you shouldn’t have been a company director because you were disqualified and bankrupt.”
Smith was also banned for 12 years from being a company director.
Some of Smith’s victims were in the public gallery as sentence was passed and applauded the judge after he jailed the rogue trader for five years.
They described the result as ‘fantastic’ as they left court.