A rogue builder who swindled so much money from homeowners he was able to splash out for his staff to go on holiday to Gibraltar has been jailed.
Alan Middleton funded a lavish lifestyle by disappearing without completing work at customers’ homes, also holidaying in Gibraltar with his wife Katie and enjoying a trip to the Italian Grand Prix.
The pair also went on city breaks where they went on shopping sprees.
Middleton, 45, is known to have dishonestly made around £600,000 from the misery he caused but trading standards investigators believe it could be much more as they believe other victims did not come forward.
The father-of-four has now been jailed for four years and six months after admitting five counts of fraud by false representation, one of theft, one under the Insolvency Act for obtaining payments over £500 whilst an undischarged bankrupt, and an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act for setting up a limited company as a bankrupt.
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Alan Middleton funded a lavish lifestyle by disappearing without completing work at customers’ homes, also holidaying in Gibraltar with his wife Katie
Middleton, 45, is known to have dishonestly made around £600,000 from the misery he caused but trading standards investigators believe it could be much more as they believe other victims did not come forward
He was also disqualified as a director for five years by Recorder Sailesh Mehta, sitting at Wood Green Crown Court in London.
Speaking after the hearing, Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said: ‘Middleton is a greedy man who thought nothing of exploiting his customers, many of them using life savings or taking out loans to pay for the work to achieve their dream home.
‘He was utterly unscrupulous and did whatever he could to extract money from them.’
The court heard one contract was worth £380,000 with £70,000 VAT, while another was for £210,000 including VAT of £45,000, despite Middleton not being VAT registered.
Middleton also used a forged Federation of Master Builders insurance document to suggest he was insured to perform works.
His 34-year-old wife was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140 after pleading guilty to two counts of fraudulently obtaining a mortgage worth £400,000.
Mr Middleton was handed a 12-month jail term, to run concurrently for the same offences.
The couple, who were applying for a mortgage in the popular Suffolk market town of Saxmundham, pretended they were separated because of Mr Middleton’s poor credit history.
Middleton’s 34-year-old wife was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140 after pleading guilty to two counts of fraudulently obtaining a mortgage worth £400,000
Mrs Middleton claimed to be earning a salary of £108,000 and provided a legal deed of separation from a solicitor.
The purchase of the property didn’t go through after the mortgage company raised concerns about the application.
Suffolk Trading Standards began their investigation after receiving reports from homeowners who had paid for building work only for Middleton to disappear.
He told customers he only worked on one site at a time but victims quickly realised he was involved with multiple projects simultaneously.
The conman – whose offences covered October 2015 to October 2019 – was also using tactics to extract more money from customers, including falsifying supplier invoices.
Middleton, who recently moved to Rugby in Warwickshire, used the fake first name of Gary while deceiving people.
He traded under the names GK Builders, G&K Builders, Middleton Building Services, AGM Custom Construction and AGM Bespoke Construction Ltd at sites across Suffolk.
Andrew Reid, the Suffolk county councillor responsible for public health and protection, said: ‘Middleton is now reaping the consequences of his actions and I hope this sentencing goes some way towards providing justice for those he exploited.
‘Customers trusted him but he abused that trust in a way that left them picking up the pieces.
‘Not only would he disappear part-way through a job, causing untold distress when his victims had to finance the completion of his work, what work he did carry out was often to a poor standard.’
Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim to Middleton should contact trading standards.