A BUILDER who left a homeowner in the lurch after failing to complete a kitchen extension has been convicted of fraud.

Michael Anthony Fagan, of Swift Construction NE Ltd, pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation when he appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court.

The 35-year-old, of Linfield, Ryhope, near Sunderland, had been employed to extend the kitchen of a home in Ouston, near Chester-le-Street, in January 2017

It was meant to cost £34,600 and take five weeks, but by April, Fagan had stopped replying to calls, despite having received payments of £27,800.

The court heard Fagan accepted £17,000 fraudulently.

The company was dissolved on 6 June 2017 but an investigation revealed the intention to dissolve was filed on 21 March, while Fagan was working on the extension.

The victim had paid £8,000 towards the second stage of the work after this date and was not informed of the company’s position.

Magistrates heard the victim had to pay another company £17,620 to finish the extension, adding £11,820 to his original quote.

The court heard Swift Construction had been a successful company, with good reviews, but personal difficulties had led Fagan to employ others to do the work.

Fagan was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £11,820 in compensation.

Owen Cleugh, consumer protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “This prosecution demonstrates that we will take action against people and businesses who intentionally defraud their customers in County Durham.

“This incident left the victim almost £12,000 out of pocket and by doing so caused a great deal of frustration and anxiety.

“We will always seek to protect law abiding traders and consumers, and those who fail to seek to mislead and behave fraudulently should expect to face the consequences.”