A fraudulent builder from Swindon who left work unfinished after pressuring victims to pay more than the agreed price has been sentenced at Reading Crown Court today (11 August 2023).
Michael Corcoran aged 43 of Stainswick Lane, Swindon, was sentenced to four years and three months immediate custodial sentence after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing on 26 May 2023 to three offences of fraudulent trading contrary to section 993 (1) of the Companies Act 2006.
Mr Corcoran was prosecuted following a large investigation by officers from the Council’s Public Protection Partnership (PPP) Investigation Team supported by the PPP Joint Case Management Unit, the Council’s Legal Services, and the National Trading Standards Tri-Regional Investigation Team.
Between October 2015 and January 2019, while trading under the guise of three companies* of which he was a director, Mr Corcoran undertook several large house renovation projects in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, generating multiple complaints from consumers.
Mr Corcoran’s dishonest representations on pricing and timetabling secured the work, with all but one of his customers approached after posting on mybuilder.com.
Mr Corcoran asked for significant sums up front as a deposit, and then, often on the first day, he would notify the homeowners of an unforeseen expense, usually a problem with steels or their sizing. He would ask for more money and continue asking for more over and above the agreed fixed price of contacts or in advance of ‘stage payment’ dates. If demands were not met, Mr Corcoran threatened to leave the job unfinished, a threat that was carried out on numerous occasions, leaving a large amount of work unfinished.
Consumers have suffered both financially and, in many cases, emotionally as a result of Mr Corcoran’s actions. One victim took early retirement to finish building work himself, having already paid over £80,000 more than was budgeted. While another, who employed Mr Corcoran to build the dream retirement home for her and her husband – who suffers with serious illnesses lives in a home needing constant repair without the funds to escape. She says her and her husband’s mental health have been impacted and their self-confidence shattered.
Commenting on the case Cllr Lee Dillon, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said:
“It is unacceptable for traders to act in this way and is detrimental to the overwhelming majority of our local businesses which are trustworthy. I hope this case sends out the message that our dedicated officers will act against those that try to take advantage of our residents.”
Ian Wright, Operations Manager, NTS Tri-Regional Investigation Team, said:
“Taking large sums of money from honest consumers before attempting to ramp up costs by threatening to leave work unfinished is thoroughly dishonest and against the law.
“This complex joint investigation is a great example of collaboration and partnership working between our regional team and local authority Trading Standards services, and the sentence sends a clear message that we will work tirelessly to bring fraudulent builders to justice.
“If you, or someone you know has fallen victim to a fraud like this, you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.”
The Public Protection Partnership is a shared service of Bracknell Forest Council, West Berkshire Council and delivers Wokingham Borough Council services for trading standards, environmental health, and licensing functions.
Notes to Editors
The Public Protection Partnership (PPP) is a shared service delivering Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards to over 450,000 people and 10,000 businesses on behalf of two authorities (Partners), Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council. In addition, PPP provide Trading Standards Services to Wokingham Borough Council.
* MC SOUTHWEST PROBUILD CONSTRUCTION LIMITED: This was Mr Corcoran’s company through which he undertook building contracts in 2015 and 2016. It was incorporated on 22/01/15 with Maureen Corcoran [Mr Corcoran’s mother] as sole director and shareholder. It was dissolved on 04/10/16.
MJC PROBUILD LIMITED: This was Mr Corcoran’s company through which he undertook building contracts in 2016 and 2017. It was incorporated on 04/04/16 with Mr Corcoran as the sole director and shareholder. He resigned as director on 19/12/17. It was dissolved on 05/02/2019.
FORTINA LIMITED: This was Mr Corcoran’s company through which he undertook building contracts in 2018 and 2019. It was incorporated on 22/11/2016 with Mr Corcoran appointed as sole director and shareholder on 27/10/2017. He resigned as director and transferred his shareholding on 01/12/2018.
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues.