A rogue builder, who gambled away £20,000 of his customer's money, has been sentenced to more than two-and-a-half years in prison following a prosecution by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Trading Standards Service.
Wieslaw Mizinski, 39, of Soundwell Road, Bristol, trading as Wesley Decorating in the Bristol & Bath area, caused a total loss of £50,000 for a Chew Magna family, much of which he gambled away. He was prosecuted for offences of fraud and breach of professional diligence following a complaint to the Council.
Mizinski appeared in custody at Bristol Crown Court on 23rd March, 2018, when he pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, and one count for breach of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He appeared before Bristol Crown Court for sentencing on 2nd May, 2018, when His Honour Judge Horton imposed a custodial sentence of two years and two months for fraud and nine months for breach of professional diligence, to run concurrently.
In addition he was sentenced for further offences of fraud by false representation brought by the Crown Prosecution Service relating to taking £900 from a Bristol family for roofing repairs but doing no work. For this he received a further custodial sentence of 5 months to run consecutively. Therefore Mizinski received a total custodial sentence of two years and seven months.
The court heard that Mizinski was paid approximately £57,000 between February and May 2016 to completely renovate and extend a property in Chew Magna. The renovation included new windows and a new extension. During that same period, Mizinski spent at least £20,000 of his client’s money gambling instead of forwarding the money into suppliers. He obtained funds from his clients with a series of lies about the progress of the job. Ultimately, he left the property gutted and uninhabitable with the defendant's losses estimated to be at least £50,000.
The court heard His Honour Judge Horton sum up the case: “The fraud was planned and sophisticated as Mizinski performed minor jobs so it visually looked to his clients like work was being done. Mizinski went onto persuade his clients to pay for high value goods and promised delivery of those goods, including windows which the victims paid £15,000 for, which had never been ordered. When it was clear there was no money left, Mizinski left the job; leaving the victims to live in a caravan at their property with their children who are of school age.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Development & Neighbourhoods, paid tribute to the Trading Standards investigation and said "It is tempting to call Mizinski a cowboy builder and an incompetent tradesman but in reality he’s a criminal. He gained the victims’ trust and exploited them.
Stuart Brown, Trading Standards Team Leader for Bath & North East Somerset Council said: “The Bath & North East Somerset Council Trading Standards Team runs an approved trader scheme called ‘Buy with Confidence’ where residents can search for local businesses which have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards. We would always encourage anyone looking for a local business to carry out some work for them to visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk .
“Anyone who thinks they might have fallen victim to a rogue trader, should report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for investigation on 0345 40 40 506.”
Before agreeing to any work, your local Trading Standards team recommend that you:
- Read reviews of traders and if possible use the Buy with Confidence Approved Trader Scheme.
- Ask at least three approved traders for quotes.
- Never pay up front and never pay cash.
- Say no to doorstep sellers.
- Always get a detailed written quotation/contract.
- Check the builder’s references and even pay visits to the references.
- Ask your neighbours, family or friends for personal recommendations of builders who have worked for them and carried out a good job.
The Buy with Confidence directory is available free of charge to callers to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s One Stop Shops in Manvers Street, Bath; The Hollies, Midsomer Norton and the Civic Centre in Keynsham. It is also available online at www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/trading-standards/buy-confidence or by calling 01225 3966759.