Jail for rogue builder who cheated family out of £7,000 for disabled son’s sensory room

A rogue builder who cheated a Bassetlaw family out of £7,000 by failing to build a much-needed sensory room for their severely disabled son has been jailed for 13 months.
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Brian Barton fobbed them off with a "plethora of excuses" over three months after accepting the deposit in July 2021 by claiming problems with suppliers, being in meetings, and issues with a skip company.

He eventually promised a refund - before ignoring their messages altogether, Nottingham Crown Court was told on Thursday, and has made no effort to repay them since.

The family from Retford were “thrown into turmoil” and the boy’s mother needed counselling and antidepressants. Arguments with her partner over why they ever employed Barton led to the breakdown of their 16-year relationship.

Nottingham Crown CourtNottingham Crown Court
Nottingham Crown Court

In a statement she said Barton “took advantage” of her and her family when they were “in a vulnerable and desperate situation.”

The family eventually recouped £6,000 from their bank but are still £1,000 out of pocket. The court heard he has three previous convictions for five unrelated offences.

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Barton, aged 53, formerly of New Ollerton and now of Laurel Fields, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, initially denied theft before entering a guilty plea on the day of a trial at Nottingham Magistrates Court, in September last year.

David Watts, mitigating, said Barton wasn’t dishonest from the outset and there had been difficulty obtaining building materials at the time.

It took him some time to accept responsibility, he said, adding that the money went on trying to keep his business afloat during the Covid-19 lockdown.

At one point Barton’s brother was confronted in his own home by a masked intruder demanding to know his whereabouts.

"In the end he moved away from the area and now works delivering motorcycles,” he said. “This is quite clearly a one-off at a time when society was going through difficulties. It's not necessary to deprive him of his liberty.”

Judge Steven Coupland told him he was "every householder's worst nightmare" and said: “You knew that work was important. The reality is you didn’t buy any materials or even turn up for work. You fobbed them off again and again.”

Describing him as “selfish”, he said Barton caused “considerable upset”, showed no real remorse, and has made no efforts to pay the money back.