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Bintree builder jailed for ‘ruining the lives’ of Attleborough couple he cost more than £200,000

PUBLISHED: 14:07 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:29 13 October 2017

King's Lynn crown court. Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn crown court. Picture: Chris Bishop

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A builder was told to hang his head in shame as he was jailed for ruining the lives of an elderly couple.

Pictures of work carried out by Blanchflower on the victims' home. Picture: Norfolk trading standards Pictures of work carried out by Blanchflower on the victims' home. Picture: Norfolk trading standards

The vulnerable couple from Attleborough, one of whom suffers Parkinson’s Disease, paid Alan Blanchflower, 59, more than £45,000 to convert their home of almost 50 years.

The project began on their home in Croft Green in April 2015 but work was slow and done so poorly the victims asked Blanchflower to leave in January the following year.

MORE: Attleborough couple spent £140,000 fixing £45,000 building project gone wrong

The couple, aged 75 at the time of the offence, had to spend a further £166,000 to fix the mess.

Pictures of work carried out by Blanchflower on the victims' home. Picture: Norfolk trading standards Pictures of work carried out by Blanchflower on the victims' home. Picture: Norfolk trading standards

Blanchflower had pleaded guilty to knowingly/recklessly engaging in a commercial practice in contravention of Unfair Trading Regulations in an earlier hearing.

In King’s Lynn crown court, where Blanchflower appeared for sentencing, prosecutor David Wilson read out an impact statement made by the victims.

It read: “Two years of our lives and most of our savings were taken by this deceitful and greedy man.

“Nights were spent in sheer desperation not knowing how to sort it out. In my opinion he has no conscience or remorse.”

Mr Wilson said Blanchflower had tried to pin the blame on other workers and subcontractors.

“During the period of time of the build he was present on a number of occasions,” added Mr Wilson. “The defendant was on site on a regular basis and should have overseen matters that were going awry.”

John Farmer, mitigating for Blanchflower, said he paid back more than £8,000 back to the couple and was made bankrupt earlier this year.

“He is a financially ruined man, this has contributed to his own downfall.” Mr Farmer added.

Blanchflower, of Cubbits Close, Bintree, near Dereham, was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Sentencing him Recorder Andrew Shaw said: “Your criminal negligence almost cost them their entire life savings, you should hang your head in shame. 
“Worst of all your actions resulted in stress and anxiety and no doubt the deterioration of their physical and mental health.

“You ruined their lives and their home they enjoyed for 50 years.

“Defects of the work would have been obvious to you but still you did nothing.

“This offence is so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards said: “People should be able to contract with local tradesmen with confidence that the building work they pay for will be carried out satisfactorily.

“Unfortunately rogue builders undermine this trust and can give the trade a bad name. Trading Standards views cases where a trader takes several thousands of pounds in payment and then fails to complete the work, very seriously and will take appropriate action, which may result in taking the offender to court.”

Trading Standards recommends that people should always use a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a trader who has been personally recommended to them by friends or family who have had similar work done. Consumers can find a Norfolk Trusted Trader by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader or by calling 0344 800 8020.

If you are concerned about rogue builder activity you can contact Trading Standards through our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 03454 040506.

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