Cowboy builder ordered to prove he can pay compensation

A cowboy builder who left two Wigan families more than £160,000 out of pocket has been ordered to prove he can afford to pay compensation.

Monday, 21st August 2017, 3:09 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:25 pm
The Cartwright family

Michael McDonnell cheated Phyllis Edwards, mother of rugby legend Shaun, by insisting he had planning permission for an extension at her Wrightington home, which had never existed.

And Angela Cartwright and her family have faced months living in rented accommodation after the botched refurbishment of their home in High Moor Lane.

McDonnell, 36, of Chorley Road, Standish, and his firm MM Projects (UK) Ltd were convicted of fraud and consumer protection offences after a previous trial before Chorley magistrates.

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He pleaded guilty to falsely claiming membership of the National House Building Council and was committed for sentence on bail to Preston Crown Court.

Defence counsel Ian Whitehurst said McDonnell owned land next to his Chorley home which was valued at £120,000.

And the court heard he was now a project manager for a London firm and expected to earn £7,000 or £8,000 per month after being taken on permanently.

Judge Philip Sycamore remanded McDonnell on bail until September 4 for sentence.

The judge ordered him to bring the deeds to the land at Standish, the planning consent and a fresh valuation to the next hearing.

He was also told to obtain a letter from his new employers confirming his salary and prospects.

Judge Sycamore is considering whether the builder deserves immediate custody or a suspended prison term.

Mrs Edwards told the court her experiences at the hands of McDonnell, a trusted family friend, had been traumatic and led to many sleepless nights.

And Mrs Cartwright said the family now had no option but to sell the site of their dream home, with planning permission, in an attempt to recoup their considerable losses.