Somerset

Bristol builder Mark Johnson jailed for death story fraud

A builder has been jailed for conning a woman out of more than £2,700 by claiming his daughter had been hit and killed by a car.

Mark Johnson, 38, of Cadbury Heath, was jailed for 12 months at Bath Magistrates' Court for fraud.

The charges related to building jobs that Johnson, trading as Warmley Building Services, took on in 2012.

He lied to one client about his daughter's death. It was later found £450 had been spent gambling online.

The court heard the woman from Bath paid a deposit of £2,740 to convert a bathroom into a wet room for her elderly mother who has dementia.

'Distressing time'

The day before the building work was due to start she received an email from Johnson stating that he was unable to start the work because his daughter had been hit by a car.

Several weeks later after telling the client he had purchased the materials to begin the work, Johnson emailed her to say his daughter had died.

Later he wrote again to thank the client for being understanding at this "most distressing time in our lives", saying that he would return to work shortly.

Investigations into Johnson's bank statements found that the £2,740 deposit had gone from his account with no evidence that it had been spent on materials for the wet room.

However, an amount of £450 had been spent on an online gambling site during this period.

At a previous hearing, Johnson admitted four counts of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 and one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said it would use "the full force of the law on any rogue trader setting out to deceive people and defraud them".

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