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Builder took luxury holidays while ripping off customers in £220,000 jobs

PUBLISHED: 16:59 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:38 07 March 2019

John Miller at Norwich Crown Court during his trial. The case against his wife Catherine (pictured) was dropped. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

John Miller at Norwich Crown Court during his trial. The case against his wife Catherine (pictured) was dropped. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A cowboy builder who took luxury holidays while heartbroken customers were left with shoddy and unfinished work was jailed for four years today.

How John Miller left one of the building jobs at Horsford. It was meant to be a bedroom. Photo: SubmittedHow John Miller left one of the building jobs at Horsford. It was meant to be a bedroom. Photo: Submitted

John Miller, from Three Mile Lane, Costessey, took £220,000 from eight customers for extensions he never completed, Norwich Crown Court heard.

His victims used their life savings, took out bank loans and spent £122,000 to undo Miller’s damage and finish jobs. They suffered from sleep deprivation and severe stress, prosecutor Alison Lambert said.

During one project, which was never completed, he took holidays to Las Vegas, New York, Greece and Tenerife.

Miller, who has a previous conviction for “yobbish behaviour” at a football match, also put down a £3,000 deposit for a BMW X5 during another job.

The unfinished state Miller left an extension in at a home in Horsford. Photo: SubmittedThe unfinished state Miller left an extension in at a home in Horsford. Photo: Submitted

Meanwhile he left one granny annexe, costing £40,000, with no glass in the windows, a leak in the roof and no heating or electrics.

Another extension was left with leaking windows, no tiles on the roof and gaps in the walls.

Trading Standards officer Conrad Meehan said: “His victims spoke of him as charming and he used that to get out of tight spots but that strategy can only take you so far.”

Paul Pearson, who paid Miller £40,000 to build a granny annexe, said his wife was forced on to anti-depressants to deal with the stress.

John and Catherine Miller leaving Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJohn and Catherine Miller leaving Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Customer Colin Yaxley, who paid Miller £30,000, said he “sobbed uncontrollably” in front of his child because of the stress of the project.

Another customer Hayley Dyball accused Miller of “constantly lying without conscience.”

Amy Cranmer, who gave Miller £30,000 to extend her home in Horsham St Faith, said: “He is an arrogant man. It has had a massive financial impact on us up to today.”

In mitigation, Miller’s barrister Mark Tomassi said the builder “over-extended” himself.

How builder John Miller left Paul Pearson's annexe in Earlham, Norwich. Photo: Paul PearsonHow builder John Miller left Paul Pearson's annexe in Earlham, Norwich. Photo: Paul Pearson

“He became blind to what he was doing having got himself in deep water.”

But he described the father-of-three as a “caring” and “decent man”.

Judge Stephen Holt told Miller: “You were extremely good at giving excuse after excuse. Your criminal behaviour has given all small building companies a bad name.”

“You were prepared to carry on works which were inadequate and would have been a danger, in particular of a roof collapse.”

How builder John Miller left Paul Pearson's annexe in Earlham, Norwich. Photo: Paul PearsonHow builder John Miller left Paul Pearson's annexe in Earlham, Norwich. Photo: Paul Pearson

In one case Miller fixed an extension to a house using shelf joints.

“You have shown no genuine remorse,” Judge Holt added.

“You blame others but... you alone are the dishonest one.

“This case has demonstrated the pain and suffering your criminal behaviour has brought to your victims and their families.”

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