A Suffolk builder has been jailed after he overcharged clients, failed to complete jobs and committed a £170,000 VAT fraud
Alan Middleton was found guilty of five counts of fraud which funded an extravagant lifestyle. Using stolen funds, Middleton and his wife Katie went on trips to Gibraltar and the Italian Grand Prix, and also regularly visited London for shopping sprees, as well as sending staff members on trips abroad.
Originally from Saxmundham, the builder obtained £592,000 from unsuspecting clients, disappeared during jobs and failed to complete building work which was often substandard.
He has been given a four-year sentence at Wood Green Crown Court in London and was disqualified from acting as a director for five years.
Suffolk Trading Standards launched the investigation after victims reported they had paid upfront for building work, which was never completed.
The court heard one contract was worth £380,000 with £70,000 VAT while another was for £210,000 with VAT of £45,000, despite Middleton not being VAT-registered.
Multiple building sites were being worked on at one time, despite working under a forged Federation of Master Builders insurance documents to prove to potential clients he was insured and qualified to take on the work.
Middleton was trading under five separate companies, which are now dissolved, including K Builders, G & K Builders, Middleton Building Services, AGM Custom Construction and AGM Bespoke Construction Limited.
Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk Trading Standards said: ‘Middleton is a greedy man who thought nothing of exploiting his customers, many of them using their life savings or taking out loans to pay for the work to achieve their dream home.
‘He was utterly unscrupulous and did whatever he could to extract money from them.
‘This included falsifying invoices to claim £170,000 in VAT despite not being registered, forging insurance documents to mislead people into thinking their properties were protected, and endangering lives by incorrectly stating building control was not required for projects when this was in fact needed.’
He admitted to five counts of fraud by false representation, one of theft, one under the Insolvency Act for obtaining payments over £500 while an undischarged bankrupt, and one offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act for setting up a limited company as a bankrupt.
He and his partner also committed mortgage fraud by pretending they were not in a relationship together. Due to his poor credit rating, Mrs Middleton claimed that she was earning a salary of £108,000 to be approved for a mortgage. She received a nine-month sentence for the mortgage fraud, suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140 for her involvement.
Councillor Andrew Reid at Suffolk County Council said: ‘Middleton is now reaping the consequences of his actions and I hope his sentencing goes some way towards providing justice for those he exploited.
‘Customers trusted him, but he abused that trust in a way that left them picking up the pieces.
‘Not only would he disappear part-way through a job, causing untold distress when his victims had to finance the completion of his work, what work he did carry out was often to a poor standard.’