A DODGY builder has been jailed after he fleeced three unsuspecting customers with promises of completing projects.

David Kemp left his victims thousands of pounds out of pocket after starting building work before failing to complete them despite their taking cash in advance payments.

Kemp left one couple facing financial hardship after conning them out of £2,500 and leaving them needing to pay out a further £5,000 to complete the work on their conservatory at their Stockton home.

Teesside Crown Court heard Kemp's next victims paid £4,600 towards having a summer house built and artificial lawn laid before he disappeared without completing the work.

Sue Hirst, prosecuting, said his next victim had paid for Kemp, who also advertised his building services under the name of Dave Chisnell, to build a summerhouse in their garden while they were on holiday as a surprise for their young children.

Miss Hirst said Kemp came up with a number of excuses for failing to finish the work including suffering a stroke and hospital treatments.

The court heard Kemp had similar previous offences on his record which he was sentenced to four years in custody in defrauding eleven customers in Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Durham and Sunderland

He was also sentenced for ripping off the taxpayer by claiming benefits while working.

Kemp, of Riversdale Terrace, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud by false representation he committed in 2018.

Steven Reed, in mitigation, said his client had a history of mental illness and was suffering from ill health, including a stroke in March 2008.

He added: "He does fully accept that he is guilty of these offences.

Judge Paul Watson QC told Kemp his offences had caused considerable financial damage to his victims and jailed him for 15 months.

He said: "You have previous conviction for fraud and received a substantial sentence in 2015 for a whole variety of offences.

"These offences committed in 2018 must have been relatively soon after your release from that sentence.

"What you did on each occasion was to engage in work from a wholly frivolous, cavalier and reckless position."