Croston rogue trader Thomas Mawdsley's victims formed Facebook support group before he was finally jailed
A conman and his wife sobbed audibly as he was jailed for 15 months after causing misery for a string of homeowners in Lancashire.
Thomas Mawdsley, 38, formerly of Westhead Road, Croston, admitted eight fraud and unfair trading offences concerning eight victims after a Lancashire Trading Standards probe.
Preston Crown Court was told Mawdsley, now of Chevin Road, Milford, Belper, Derby, had committed the acts over a two year period while operating a home improvement business.
Prosecuting, Anthony Parkinson said he had tricked one man into making payments into his wife's bank account, believing he was paying someone to connect water and electricity to a home office he was building.
He would take money for promised work but fail to carry it out or complete it, and would also tell lies to customers, leaving them "upset, annoyed and out of pocket".
He added: "On occasions he was recommended by others and on others the complainants would find him via Facebook.
The court heard in 2016 a Leyland man bought land to build a home office on and Mawdsley, who was recommended to him, initially completed some work for him with no issue.
On January 24 he entered into a contract to carry out further work at the site including removing debris, digging trenches and connecting utilities.
He said: " The defendant had told him he knew a lady called Miss Birkenhead who worked for a Manchester City Council who would be able to arrange for water and electrical connections to be made, and instructed him to pay money directly into her bank account.
"Various excuses were made as to why payment was needed and he even suggested he'd receive a refund.
"At the same time the defendant was falling behind schedule in relation to the work."
By 2019 the victim had paid £8,851 into 'Miss Birkenhead's' bank account.
It transpired 'Birkenhead' is maiden name of Mawdsley's wife and she had never been an employee of Manchester Council.
After receiving a £700 deposit Mawdsley said he was arranging for planning applications to be lodged, but no application was ever submitted.
He had also been paid £1,000 for a worktop he said he had bought.
When she asked for proof of his public liability insurance, Mawdsley sent a bogus document which aroused her suspicions and "sealed his fate".
She contacted the worktop firm who told her Mawdsley had enquired but never bought a worktop.
She has since obtained a judgement in her favour at the county court but he still hasn't paid her.
Today Deborah, who runs Croston Park Care Home, said: "He has conned us out of nearly £2,000.
"He's quite an affable man, he's not a horrible character.
"But I suddenly thought why would he be going to Chorley Council for planning permission when we live in South Ribble.
"I'm disappointed because I went to the police a long time ago about this and told them I was aware he was doing it to others, but they weren't willing to do anything, even though it was carrying on.
" He could have been stopped before he did more damage.
"But Trading Standards have been superb. I'm pleased he's got his comeuppance, but feel sorry for those who were left with incomplete jobs. At least our kitchen hadn't been ripped out - we had a lucky escape."
Mawdsley admits failing to complete bathroom work for another man who had paid him £2,450, and a custom built bookcase for £600 for another victim, claiming he had a hand injury.
A woman paid him a £350 deposit for concreting and garden work, which wasn't completed, and police had to become involved when a man kept visiting her home asking for money.
Another woman's kitchen was "left in bits" with holes in her walls after she had handed over £10,000.
In a victim impact statement the nurse said she had retired in 2020 and the fraud had impacted on her savings as she had to pay out more money to rectify it.
She said she had "lost trust in workmen" and blamed herself.
A seventh victim paid £400 for pointing work and £500 for kitchen work, which was never completed.
And in 2019 Mawdsley tricked a man he knew into paying him £1,000 for a fireplace and battery drill by claiming he could purchase them at a reduced rate.
Further former customers, not part of the proceedings, came forward to report and share concerns on a dedicated Facebook page to raise awareness of rogue traders.
One of them, mum Helen Cooke, from Walton-le-Dale, says she lost £3,000.
She said: " He took around 3,000 for materials for a loft conversion and did one days work.
"I never got a penny of the money back."
Another woman said 25 former customers had formed a 'Tom' Facebook group to share information about him.
The court heard he had previous convictions for theft by an employee and was subject to a suspended jail term.
Defending, Robin Kitching urged the court to suspend the married dad-of-one's jail term, saying he would be able to pay his victims compensation and "pay back society" through other forms of sentence.
But Judge Simon Medland QC, sentencing, said victims had lost money, and endured stress, strain, mess, disruption and expenses.
He added : "In the light of the facts of this case and the breach of the SSO I regret to say I cannot agree with that.
"These sorts of offences cause considerable concern with the public about fraudulent traders and workmen.
" Your offending has had a direct impact on some of your victims."
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