A dodgy Wigan builder who fleeced customers out of £227,000 can only afford to pay back a tenner.
A Proceeds of Crime hearing was held at Preston Crown Court this week in a bid to claw back any cash or assets from Standish contractor Michael McDonnell who had been assessed to have accrued more than £227,000 in ill-gotten gains.
But the 37-year-old of Chorley Road, Standish, - who was last year jailed for engaging in unfair commercial practices and banned from directorships for seven years - was found to have only £10 that could be confiscated after he was forced to pay £1,000 in court costs.
Trading standards chiefs today, however, said that this would not be the end of the matter and if McDonnell came into any money in future, then new efforts would be made to recoup some of the losses for his victims.
Among those victims was Phyllis Edwards, mother of Wigan rugby legend Shaun.
The court was previously told how an extension constructed by McDonnell’s now defunct firm MM Projects (UK) Ltd for Mrs Edwards in Wrightington had no planning permission and had to be pulled down.
The pensioner handed over £45,000 to the builder, and another £40,000 as the project progressed, but a number of faults were found by a second builder.
Another Wrightington family, the Cartwrights, were forced to move out of their High Moor Lane home, which was effectively left derelict, and into temporary accommodation after enduring more than 18 months of heartache at McDonnell’s hands.
They handed over tens of thousands of pounds when he quoted £86,000 for an extension.
McDonnell pleaded guilty to falsely claiming membership of the National Housebuilders Federation before the trial, and admitted to unfair practice charges concerning MM Projects.
Warriors coach-in-waiting Shaun Edwards could not be contacted for a comment about the court result.
But Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire Council with responsibility for trading standards, said: “On top of a lengthy prison sentence and an order disqualifying him from being a company director, McDonnell now has to repay more than £227,000. McDonnell may not have any money at the moment but, when his fortunes change, he can be brought back to court until he has paid off every penny of his ill-gotten gains.”
The case last year featured on the BBC show Rip-Off Britain.