Tradesman who failed to complete jobs jailed for eight months

A workman who took thousands of pounds from homeowners for jobs he never completed has been jailed for eight months.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:08 pm
Laganside Court. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Graham Morris, 37, failed to return after receiving cash to carry out refurbishments at houses in the greater Belfast area.

Morris, of Glencoole House in Newtownabbey, was convicted on 10 counts of theft involving six different victims between May and October 2019.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard they suffered a total loss of nearly £3,000.

Prosecutors said he failed to show up as arranged when one woman gave him £2,000 to renovate her bathroom.

Morris at first claimed he had a flat tyre, but on being confronted told her that he had no money and it was a civil matter.

Another woman quoted £750 for roof and guttering work handed over £340 to cover the deposit and cost of materials.

She was told his phone had been smashed before he stopped returning her calls.

Others provided cash sums of £140, £250, £160 and £70 for jobs ranging from fitting a new shower to tiling walls.

In messages to one of them, Morris said he was in hospital and then claimed work would be put off because his father had passed away.

He also attributed issues with another of those who paid out to a “miscommunication”.

Defence lawyer Feargal MacElhatton told the court Morris used the money to finance other jobs.

“He was in business, this wasn’t a deliberate course of conduct to take money and deprive people,” the solicitor said.

“When it came to it he couldn’t carry out the work because of a lack of funds.”

With Morris already serving a sentence for other matters, District Judge George Conner asked: “Has he made any arrangements to compensate these people for the wrong that has been done?”

Mr MacElhatton replied: “He’s been in custody and is not in possession of any funds.”

Judge Conner then confirmed: “There will be eight months total (imprisonment).”