Three customers left out of pocket by a rogue builder with a gambling problem by sums amounting to £111,000 are to be compensated by a total of £45,281, a court has ruled.

But those payments can only be made when defendant Stephen Loughlen is able to sell his home, given the difficulties with the housing market.

The, now, 57-year-old builder, of Flint Hill, near Stanley, was jailed for three years at Durham Crown Court in March last year, having admitted three counts of fraud on the day of his scheduled trial in November 2021.

Loughlen, trading as Newcastle Facilities and Maintenance Ltd, based on Hobson Industrial Estate, in Burnopfield, near Stanley, took payments from customers in Consett, County Durham, in Cullercoats, North Tyneside, and in Hartburn, Northumberland, for materials to enable him to carry out improvements and renovations on their homes.

Read more: County Durham builder jailed for defrauding customers out of £111,000

But the court heard that he continued asking for further sums, which he said was to meet further building material costs and for extra labour which he said was required to complete the jobs.

In all three cases the proposed work was not completed by Loughlen, who used a variety of excuses for the delays in getting the jobs finished.

His victims were left well out of pocket and had to pay other contractors to ensure the work was finished.

A chartered surveyor, employed by prosecuting authority Durham County Council, checked each of the properties where Loughlen had been working.

The assessment, in each case, was that the defendant way overcharged for what work he had carried out, some of which was considered sub-standard.

Following his guilty pleas on the day his trial was due to start, Loughlen was given time by the court to try to repay the defrauded customers.

Read more: County Durham builder admits defrauding clients of £110k

But having only come up with potentially about £5,500, some from a sale of his possessions, Judge Ray Singh told him it was, “a pittance” compared to the losses incurred by his victims, and imposed the immediate 36-month prison sentence.

Proceeds of crime inquiries were put in place to see what further sums could be confiscated from the defendant, to compensate the victims.

When the case came back to court for a crime proceeds hearing, Philip Morley, prosecuting, said the defendant’s estimated benefit from his criminal activities was £140,409, but the available amount to confiscate from him was put at £45,281.

Mr Morley said it was agreed the confiscation sum should be paid as compensation to his victims, split on a pro-rata basis at £12,162, £13,795 and £19,423.

Read next:

Rogue builder and gardener from Hetton-le-Hole jailed for fraud

Rogue roofer from Shildon jailed for ripping off vulnerable resident

County Durham builder left six customers out of pocket by £17k total

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Richard Bloomfield, representing Loughlen, asked for time to make those payments as the defendant’s house was on the market, but adding: “It’s not the best time to sell.”

Judge Jo Kidd said she would provisionally set the deadline date for payment of the full £45,281, as September 25, with a period in default of 12-months in prison.

Addressing Loughlen, she said: “You know the time pressure is on for the house to be sold and, in the event of issues, you must show magistrates you are doing everything in your power to ensure it’s been sold and whether further time can be given.”