3 year sentence for doorstep conman prosecuted by St Helens Trading Standards

Stuart Magrath and William Greenall (trading as SB Building Services) were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday 3rd October 2019, having previously entered guilty pleas to Fraud Act offences, for operating a business for a fraudulent purpose.

Between May 2016 and April 2018 the partnership cold called at addresses all over the North West of England (Bolton, Wigan, St Helens, Liverpool, Deeside and Blackpool). In one instance Stuart Magrath cold called at the same property 12 times before the occupier, an elderly lady, eventually opened the door to him.

SB Building Services only ever dealt in cash. It operated a three-stage payment structure. ‘Stage 1’, which was payable immediately upon the contract being signed, ‘Stage 2’ which was payable upon materials being ordered and ‘Stage 3’, which was payable following completion. This structure was rarely adhered to.

Time and again cash payments were requested earlier than they were due to be paid under the contract, start dates were put back, for weeks or even months at a time, with little or no notice to the customer, work listed in the contracts simply wasn’t started or where it was, it wasn’t adequately completed.

When customers of SB Building Service reached the end of their patience and requested a refund or remedial work, all that was forthcoming was a series of excuses and broken promises.

Stuart Magrath was sentenced to a total of three years imprisonment with Judge Driver commenting that Magrath was the driving force and played the leading role with a state of mind of just wanting the cash while not caring less about the victims by lying to their faces, pestering them to pay and sometimes to pay again. Judge Driver referenced one victims account that Magrath had told them that his business was not one that ripped off pensioners like you see on the telly. Judge Driver then informed Magrath, “That was exactly what you were” Judge Driver also recognised that the harm to the victims, the majority who were retired, was more than merely financial. He said that their homes had been affected while also having to endure close personal contact with a man who put them under pressure.

William Greenall was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months with 140 hours of community work/service. Judge Driver considered Greenall’s involvement as less serious than his co-accused having being involved for half of the period of offending compared to Magrath. While Greenall had not been involved in the cold calling or hard sell tactics Judge Driver said that by turning a blind eye, Greenall enabled Magrath to rip people off.

The total value of the frauds was in the region of £50,000. A timetable has been set by the Court for confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to establish if any money can be recovered for the victims.