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Builder who lost residents £100,000 admits nine offences of fraud

A builder whose shoddy work meant his customers lost around £100,000 has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of fraud following an investigation by Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards. 

James Lee Knight, aged 44, of Reawla Lane, Reawla, Hayle advertised for building works via Facebook under the names of Jay Knight or Jay Knight Masonry.  

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But from January 2017 and September 2020 he persuaded at least eight homeowners to pay for repairs or extension works that he failed to finish. Most of the work he did undertake was of such a poor standard that it needed to be re-done by other firms.  

His victims told of the various excuses and “sob stories” he would give when challenged on the slow progress being made or when he simply stopped turning up. Many had also been persuaded to make additional payments or order materials direct from the builders merchants on his behalf in order to try and get the work finished. 

In one instance he then tried to re-sell some of the materials bought by the customer. 

During the investigation, Trading Standards also discovered that Knight had kept a rental car for months longer than he had paid for. When threatened with police action he finally abandoned the vehicle in such an appalling condition that it had to be removed from the fleet. 

The team also uncovered other examples where Knight had commissioned services from other local businesses but had then not paid them. 

On Wednesday February 3, 2021 Knight appeared at Truro Crown Court where he admitted nine offences of fraud, one offence of theft and one of criminal damage.  

He was ordered to return to the Crown Court on March 24, 2021 at which time he will be sentenced. 

Rob Nolan, portfolio holder for Environment and Public Protection, said: “This man caused a lot of upset to homeowners who have lost significant amounts of money. 

“I would like to thank our Trading Standards team who have worked so hard to bring this case to court and seek justice for the victims.  

“We will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit such crimes and hope this serves as a warning to others.” 

Stpry created on 8 February 2021