Victims of a Wisbech builder who took money and failed to carry out work have blasted the sentence given following a court hearing as “joke and a waste of time”.
South African born Christopher Ferreira, 42 of Poppy Mews, Wisbech, was given a financial penalty at Peterborough Magistrates Court yesterday (Wednesday) after pleading guilty to three charges under the Consumer Protection Act following an investigation by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards.
Ferreira repeatedly failed to attend the work, failed to complete the work, and took payment for work which was not delivered in the timescales agreed and failed to repay his victims for some or any of the deposit paid for the work with reasonable promptness.
Operating as CB Property Maintenance Ferreira took £3,350 from three victims for home improvement work he promised to do on their behalf.
One of his victims Jayne and Neil Sturgeon cashed in a pension fund to pay him over £2,000 for work to replace their sewerage system.
“We needed a new sewerage system because we live in an old cottage and it was antiquated and kept backing up near our kitchen. I cashed in a pension to pay for it, with the promise of a family holiday with our grandchildren in Cornwall with what was left.
“We paid him up front because of the cost of materials and then there was just one excuse after another, all the same excuses he gave the other two victims - backache, toothache and things like that.
“My husband even challenged him once and asked if he was a con man and I think that put the wind up him and that was basically it. The work he did do he botched. He tried to dig up a concrete garden path, which was about six inches thick, using an ordinary Black and Decker drill - all he achieved was to upset our neighbours with the noise.
“We felt really foolish that we duped by him, but we got several quotes and he was mid-range and turned up with a portfolio of pictures. In the end we had to try to find someone else to do the work and they did a fantastic job but sadly it used up all our money and so we weren’t able to have the family holiday we had promised our grandchildren, which was really upsetting.
He should have been given a community sentence. He has already been ordered to pay us money through the civil court, he made a couple of payments and then that stopped.
“I would also warn other people to not just take someone’s word and be taken in by pictures, because we certainly were, but to get personal recommendations before choosing a builder.”
Brenda Barber, who paid Ferreira to carry out two improvement jobs at her Wisbech home said: “We paid him over £1,200 up front for the work because we knew he would have to order materials. He kept telling us the materials were coming and he would do the work. But he started one job and never finished it and never started the other. We ended up having to pay someone else to come in and put right what he had done.
“The court has ordered him to repay us £200 over the next 18 months. We took him to civil court ourselves and we were awarded £1,200 but he has never paid. “I think he should have been given a suspended sentence, I wouldn’t want him to go to prison, but the threat of a suspended sentence might ensure he actually pays. It really seems a bit of a joke and a waste of time, there appears to be nothing forcing him to pay or to stop him setting up another company, under a different name and doing it again.”
The third victim was a single parent who wanted to make a small improvement to the family home by dividing a room with double doors and she had a similar experience as Jayne and Brenda.
During Wednesday’s hearing magistrates took into account the compelling victims’ statements and felt Ferreria became ‘dishonest over a period of time’. He was ordered to pay £1,100 of compensation and £700 costs. The rest of the money has been promised to be paid back to the victims by Ferreria through outstanding civil court actions.