Families fleeced out of £85,000 by rogue builder

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A rogue builder who left victims more than £80,000 out of pocket - including the elderly mother of Wigan legend Shaun Edwards - has been successfully prosecuted by trading standards chiefs.

An extension constructed by Standish-based Michael McDonnell and his firm MM Projects (UK) Ltd, for Phyllis Edwards at Wrightington, which had no planning permission,had to be pulled down.

Another Wrightington family, the Cartwrights, have been forced to move out of their High Moor Lane home and into temporary accommodation after enduring more than 18 months of heartache at McDonnell’s hands.

McDonnell, 36, of Chorley Road, was convicted by the Chorley court of engaging in unfair commercial practices offences in relation to the Edwards and Cartwrights, in a case brought by Lancashire Trading Standards.

He also pleaded guilty to falsely claiming membership of the National Housebuilders Federation, before the trial, and admitted to unfair practices charges concerning MM Projects (UK) Ltd.

Magistrates have committed McDonnell and the company to Preston Crown Court for sentencing on July 25.

Prosecutor Jacob Dyer said McDonnell made a number of misleading statements to Mrs Edwards, after she had commissioned him to build an extension at the start of 2014. She handed over £45,000 to the builder, and another £40,000 as the project progressed.

McDonnell assured Mrs Edwards that he had secured planning permission and building control certificates for the work, the court heard.

Mr Dyer said the customer became concerned that the extension was not being carried out in accordance with architects’ plans. When a second builder inspected the job he found a number of faults.

Building control inspectors also confirmed that while they had been asked to attend at the property on one occasion, early in the development, their services had never been requested again, the court was told.

In 2015 Angela Cartwright was quoted £86,000 by McDonnell to complete an extension at her home in High Moor Lane. She was told building control certificates would be provided at every stage.

Work began that September after a deposit of £21,000 was handed over.

Ten days later, after McDonnell said the foundations and drainage had been completed, another £12,500 payment was made, followed by £9,333 for further work.

Mr Dyer said Mrs Cartwright was already unhappy at repeated requests for upfront payment and certain aspects of the development, but reluctantly agreed to meet further bills of £9,715 and £5,687, amid claims plastering, plumbing and electrical elements of the build had been carried out.

McDonnell made a further request for £2,500 in December 2015 to meet cash-flow problems, wile Mrs Cartwright continued to press for building control certificates.

Mr Dyer said it emerged that while a building inspector had visited High Moor Lane twice, McDonnell had failed to pay them for further checks.

Mrs Cartwright said: “We know that he is still carrying out work in the local area even now and we want people to know what has happened to us.”

We made several attempted to contact Michael McDonnell but he did not respond to our queries.