A SURVEYOR who encouraged a Heighington couple to employ a cowboy builder to work on their home has been prosecuted for fraud.

Robin Howe, 67, of Morton Wynyates, Morton-on-Swale, Northallerton, was found guilty of fraud by abuse of position after being prosecuted by Darlington Borough Council following an investigation by its Trading Standards officers.

A two-day trial at Gateshead Magistrates' Court heard that Howe had provided services as a quantity surveyor to Lissa and Nigel Scott for a building work project to extend their Heighington home.

However, Howe used his position to promote the services of a particular builder, who was awarded the contract.

The Northern Echo:

He then encouraged staged payments to the builder despite problems with the work being carried out.

Howe also failed to tell the victims that he had received an ‘introductory’ fee from the builder.

Following the guilty verdict, Howe will be sentenced at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on November 13.

Lissa and Nigel Scott said after the hearing: “Mr Howe abused a position of trust in order to promote the interests of a rogue builder at our expense.

“We feel extremely disappointed and let down.

"Had it not been for Mr Howe we would never have come into contact with this builder, whose work was so poor that the entire building had to be demolished.

The Northern Echo:

"Hopefully this case will help other innocent people avoid being taken in as we were.”

Dawn Taylor, the council’s trading standards manager, said: “This prosecution is a good result.

"The victims were left devastated and out of pocket by a greedy fraudster who was looking after his own interests and not theirs."

Cllr Jonathan Dulston, cabinet member, said it was a 'complex investigation' adding: “Trading standards is committed to protecting the rights of Darlington citizens, investigating those who are not operating within the law and taking robust enforcement action.”