A rogue builder who left customers in Abingdon thousands of pounds out of pocket has been jailed for four years.

Nathan Kingsbury’s work was of such poor quality that devastated homeowners were forced to spend tens of thousands of pounds to fix his bodged building work. One couple had to raid their children’s savings to pay for repairs.

Another victim, who was suffering from terminal cancer, paid him more than £1,000 to fit a new door. After her death, the pensioner’s son spent months chasing 39-year-old Kingsbury to do the work – only to find out that it would cost just £22 to fit a new lock and fix the door.

In a victim statement read to Oxford Crown Court, a woman who with her husband paid Kingsbury £70,000 to renovate their Galley Field home said the rogue trader ‘needs to be prevented from doing to other families what was done to us’.

The family spent months living in their bedrooms as building works stalled around them. The children were stopped from jumping on their beds over fears that the floors might collapse: “The children were not allowed to be children, to run around and jump on their beds.”

The builder’s other disgruntled customers would turn up at their house and Kingsbury threatened to charge ‘back rent’ for items left at the property, which she said betrayed his ‘complete lack of empathy’.

Jailing him for four years and banning him from being a company director for five years, Judge Nigel Daly said: “You have been described as a rogue trader; in my mind correctly described as such and from the information before me you are continuing to trade.

“I am told your building company is doing really well, you are very busy and you can get plenty of work should you wish to do so.

“But as I have indicated you are a fraudster. The effect on the victims in a case such as this has got to be taken into [consideration].

“It causes not only financial loss but considerable stress, anxiety, upset and frustration to victims and you have heard something about that in these victim impact statements.”

Kingsbury, of Haines Court, Abingdon, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of fraud.

He admitted defrauding customers at three building projects. The first, a garage conversion at a property in The Motte, Abingdon, saw the customer pay out more than £20,000 to Kingsbury for works that were never finished. The project overran by months the 12 weeks it was initially expected to last. The victim had to pay other traders £10,000 to make good the fraudster’s poor work.

In summer 2018, a couple agreed to pay Kingsbury £87,000 for ground floor renovations to their home in Galley Fields, Abingdon. Concerned about an application on the Companies House listing for Kingsbury’s firm Nathan Kingsbury Construction Limited to be struck off the register, the couple made sure their contract was with the builder personally and made it a condition of the contract that he did not undertake work on other projects.

The family had to endure months of living in their bedrooms as the works overran around them. The building work was later found to be of poor quality, while traders and suppliers were not paid. Kingsbury ignored his contractual obligation not to work on other projects and the family, who had handed over £70,000, had to spend £87,000 to fix the damage.

The builder never even began work on a third project, to fit a new door for a woman in her 70s suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer. After her death, the woman’s son made repeated attempts to get him to do the work, for which she had paid more than £1,000 in May 2018. It was never completed, with Kingsbury cancelling more than a dozen appointments to fit the door – his excuses ranging from poor weather to issues at other sites.

He did not respond to invitations by investigators at Oxfordshire Trading Standards to attend an interview under caution and only pleaded guilty to the fraud charges on the day of his trial. The court heard that, in a pre-sentence report, Kingsbury appeared to show little remorse.

Some of the poor-quality work done by Nathan Kingsbury Picture: OCC

Some of the poor-quality work done by Nathan Kingsbury Picture: OCC

In mitigation, it was said he had a number of children, including a four week old baby. He was the main breadwinner in the house and his partner, who gave birth last month, may be forced to return to work early in order to support the family.

The trained carpenter continued to work in the building trade and would be able to pay £1,000 a month in compensation. He had a share in a house worth an estimated £500,000, which could be sold to pay compensation. Kingsbury had no previous convictions.

Speaking after the case, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards Jody Kerman said: “The vast majority of Oxfordshire’s builders complete their work on time and to their customers satisfaction. When this is not the case and traders take money for inadequate or dangerous work, or simply don’t do the work at all, then our trading standards team are here to protect residents from rogue trader activities.”

Victim Lorna Spurgeon said: “Mr Kingsbury left our family in winter, with a house that was dangerous to live in, had limited heating, no kitchen, incomplete electrics, and was not fully weathertight or secure.

“We had no usable ground floor and significant portions of the first floor were held up by temporary supports.

“It has taken three years of our time, loss of income, and all our savings to rebuild the house from the devastation he left behind. The emotional impact on our young children, and ourselves, is still being felt today.”

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