Fraudster Runcorn builder jailed after forging safety documents at Manchester Court

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A fraudster builder who left a customer more than £60,000 out of pocket has been jailed for almost four years, following a sentencing hearing at Manchester Crown Court.

Adam Routledge, 36, of Stenhills Crescent, Runcorn, pleaded guilty to fraud after admitting he faked insurance documents and the approval of a building inspector whilst carrying out a basement conversion in Didsbury.

This case first came to the attention of Manchester City Council in January 2017 after a complainant contacted Trading Standards over the quality of Routledge’s work.

The complainant had originally approached Routledge to carry out a basement conversion on their house in August 2016 after seeing him working at a nearby property.

They made it clear that any work was to be completed to building regulation standards, and that professional indemnity, public liability insurance, guarantees and guarantee protection insurance were provided. Routledge agreed to this.

Work was carried out until Christmas 2016 when it became clear that the standard of construction was falling far short of what had been agreed, but by this stage more than £30,000 had been spent by the complainant on the conversion.

During the sentencing hearing the Court heard that Routledge had “gone to ground” during this period to avoid repeated attempts by the complainant to contact him.

The complainant approached a reputable contractor to fix the work already carried out by Routledge, incurring an additional £36,000 to the total cost of the basement conversion.

This behaviour was followed by two further acts of fraud carried out in Cheshire, where he preyed on elderly and vulnerable residents in Northwich and Runcorn. This was taken into account alongside his actions in Manchester during sentencing.

Manchester’s Trading Standards carried out detailed investigations into the allegations made against Routledge. Evidence gathered ultimately proved that the documents provided by the defendant were fake, and the company Routledge claimed to have issued certificates relating to building regulations confirmed they had no relationship with the defendant.

Attempts were also made to track down the building inspector who allegedly signed these documents, but no such person was found to exist.

The Council was also able to draw on the valuable support of Cheshire West and Chester Council, and Halton Borough Council Trading Standards whose officers were able to help piece together the criminal acts Routledge had carried out after leaving Manchester.

The Council made multiple attempts to invite Routledge for interview, all of which went unanswered.

On Tuesday 26 January, Routledge was jailed for three years and nine months. Half of that period must be spent in custody, with the remaining time on licence.

In summing up Judge Cross QC said Routledge had purposely targeted elderly people for his fraudulent practices and had caused distress to his victims and their families. The judge said the victim statements for this case were distressing and the defendant has affected their lives in a way that can never be mended.

He said the victims had been frightened, this has changed their lives and they are now extremely vulnerable. He added: “There is a mark of shame on your character. You were leaving your home and going to the wealthiest suburbs to practice this fraud.”

No orders for costs or compensation were made.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “The defendant in this case is one of the most callous and brazen we have dealt with in a long time. Over the course of our investigation, we discovered that Routledge had gone to great lengths to cover up his dishonesty, and when eventually found out he simply fled in order to con other unsuspecting victims.

“The hard work and tenacious efforts of our Trading Standards officers, our legal team as well as our colleagues at Cheshire West and Chester Council, and Halton Borough Council, has fortunately resulted in this successful prosecution. The victims have been cheated out of huge sums of money by this fraudster, and I hope that his imprisonment will bring them a small degree of comfort.”

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