A GAMBLING “cowboy builder’”has been jailed again after he defrauded customers for thousands of pounds.

Before arriving at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, 35-year-old Jonathan Jones had already served time behind bars for ripping off customers.

In 2017 Jones, who had gambled away almost £42,000 at the casino while charging customers thousands of pounds for poor or non-existent work. pleaded guilty to unfair trading charges fraud and money laundering. He would go on to be imprisoned for 21 months.

When his latest offences were uncovered by Stockton Council’s Trading Standards, he went to trial, this time protesting his innocence. But on April 23, a jury unanimously reached guilty verdicts on all eight counts against him.

On Thursday, Judge Sean Morris branded him a “cowboy builder” and jailed him once again, this time for eight months.

Laying out the latest charges against Jones, of Hazel Slade, Eaglescliffe, on behalf of Stockton Council, Rebecca Brown said he had taken £31,637 of customers’ cash while promising to complete concrete imprinting work on their driveways.

Jones had asked customers for payments up front in order to pay for materials.

But once he had parted his victims from their cash, his work would be sub-standard, often never completed and on one occasion, never even started.

Ms Brown said that in October 2016, Jones had been paid £5,100 to carry out work at a home in Redcar which an expert witness assessed to be “sub-standard” and “unfit for purpose”.

On another occasion Jones took £2,000 from a Stainton customer but this time only got as far as digging up the existing drive. He promised the customer a refund of £1,800 – a payment that was never made.

Ms Brown said one customer in Spennymoor had “specifically asked” if Jones had ever been in trouble with the police.

“The defendant said no, we know that was untrue,” she said.

Another customer said the driveway built for her by Jones “looked like it had been down longer than I’ve been on the planet”.

He ripped off a 79-year-old in Sunderland for £2,400, only getting as far as digging up their existing drive before disappearing and becoming almost impossible to contact.

And in Hartlepool, he took £730 from a customer and simply never bothered to start work.

Ms Brown said customers would often find it almost impossible to contact Jones after he had made off with their cash.

She said however that some had managed to get Jones on the phone – but only by pretending to be new customers.

Ms Brown said Jones had continued his dishonest practices trading under the name of his company, JBS Driveways, even after he had entered guilty pleas for his fraud in January 2017.

She said complaints submitted to Stockton Council regarding Jones and JBS Driveways dated back to 2010 and added that he had since began trading under a new company name, North East Driveways and Joinery Services.

She added that there was no evidence to suggest Jones had deliberately targeted vulnerable people.

Daniel Penman, mitigating, said: “He has a family which was significantly disrupted by his going to prison in 2017.

“He has a wife, although he doesn’t at present live with her, he also has a six-year-old son and an eight-year-old step son.

“He has been working hard to rebuild that relationship.”

Mr Penman said Jones had since changed his working practices, no longer taking deposits before completing work and only taking on one job at a time.

He added that he had also stopped gambling.

Judge Sean Morris said: “I have to take into account that the defendant has been working properly since.

“But he’s had so many shots across his bows and he was still, as the jury found, defrauding people.”

Turning to the defendant he said: “Stand up Jones.

“You’ve had warning after warning after warning after warning. Trading Standards and the public need to be protected from cowboy builders.

“You knew you were to be prosecuted when you took on these jobs.

“Even when you had pleaded guilty you were still taking on more work knowing you couldn’t finish it.

“People were left in limbo. You took a lot of money, no doubt to go to the casino.

“This is high culpability – a large number of victims.”

He jailed Jones, of Hazel Slade, Eaglescliffe, for eight months.