‘Merciless’ rogue trader took £35,000 from pensioner for botched roof repairs

A FRAUDULENT builder who cost an elderly man more than £50,000 and left his loft contaminated with asbestos has avoided prison.

Mark Bibby, 48, admitted misleading action after charging a customer over four times the going rate for re-tiling and failing to repair his roof to a safe standard. 

Mark Bibby

Mark Bibby

In total Bibby, of Kinross Crescent, Drayton took £35,350 from then 82-year-old Mr Gardner for botched roof repairs, in a job experts say should have cost a maximum of £17,000 if done to a good standard.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that the work carried out at Mr Gardner’s home  between March and July in 2016 were done to such a poor standard that he was exposed to asbestos. It was also reported that nails were left sticking out of the ceiling and precious family memorobilia and photographs had to be destroyed because of contamination. 

Since then Mr Gardner has had to spend a further £15, 542 to clear away the asbestos and fully repair the roof.

The court was told that Mr Gardner had asked Bibby to replace several tiles on his roof following a storm in March that had made some of them loose. At the time Bibby was working for another Aston Road resident. He quoted Mr Gardner £8,000.

Victim Mr Gardner

Victim Mr Gardner

The victim did think this was a hefty price, prosecutor Duncan Milne told the court.

He said: ‘Mr Gardner thought it sounded expensive but he trusted Bibby. A quantity surveyor said that quote was significantly over what would be expected and gave a maximum figure of £1,790.’

Building costs soon racked up with Bibby hiring builders to work with him as well as the discovery of asbestos in the roof for which the defendant quoted an additional £10,000. However, it was hard for Mr Gardner to keep track of costs as he was regularly asked for cash and cheque installments as the work continued, and his requests for itemised bills were never met.

This concerned Mr Gardner’s daughter, Lynne Jones, who asked Bibby for an invoice. Bibby was reluctant to co-operate, the court heard, but eventually a bill for £39,550 was posted through Mr Gardner’s door.

It was signed by an unknown Tim Martin and was marked by a company called Ruby’s Homes. Neither of these were found to exist. Mr Gardner did not pay the additional £4,000.

Mr Milne explained some of the upset caused to Mr Gardner after realising the dangerous condition of his roof and loft. He said: ‘His family had been up there several times unaware of the risks. He has lost family memorabilia, Christmas decorations and photos that had to be thrown away. The money he has spend on the roof was from his savings and was meant to go towards his granddaughter’s wedding and family holidays and now it’s gone.

‘Bibby took advantage of his trust. He feels less trusting of other people when they call him or knock on his door. The thought of coming to court today gave him anxiety.

‘There was some intention to cause financial harm and a financial gain for Mark Bibby. He was abusive in his position of trust.’

Defending, Thomas Evans, claimed that the father-of-five’s conduct was not malicious but caused by incompetence.

 He said: ‘The quotations provided highlight the defendant’s lack of competence in his line of work. Mark Bibby did not set out to deceive Mr Gardner but found the work got out of control and he did not check the work being carried out by others he was paying. 

‘He has also shown remorse about what has happened.’

When passing sentence Judge David Melville QC said: ‘You swindled Mr Gardner from the beginning. It was pitiless, merciless and thoroughly dishonest. You were also incompetant in what you were doing.

‘I have been told imprisonment will affect those you love like your wife and your family.’

Judge Melville believed a prison sentence would deprive Mr Gardner of any compensation and ordered a two years suspended sentence instead. Bibby will have to pay Mr Gardner £500 every month for the next five years.

The judge added: ‘You have got your liberty today but at a price, you must pay.’

Speaking outside of court Mr Gardner said: ‘My main concern was will I get the money back, and hopefully I will now. 

‘It would have been nice to see him go to prison and be able to tell everyone that but I wouldn’t have got my money back if that was the case.’