Former Witney builder sentenced to prison for fraud

A builder, formerly based in Witney, but now living in Oldbury in the West Midlands, has been sentenced by Oxford Crown Court to 20 months imprisonment for fifteen charges of fraud.  

Ten months will be spent in prison and 10 months in the community ‘on licence’.

Paul Graham Allcock, aged 52, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing of dishonestly entering into contracts for projects where he charged for materials he did not purchase and for failing to finish work. What work he did carry out was substandard. This was despite being paid thousands of pounds by his victims.

The court action followed an investigation by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety, said: “Mr Allcock left both Oxfordshire residents and businesses out of pocket, as well as causing the emotional distress that results from such offending. Our trading standards team are here to protect residents from rogue trader activity and to protect the reputation of the majority of traders in Oxfordshire who treat their customers fairly.”

At the time of the offences, during 2017 and 2018, Mr Allcock was trading as Windrush Landscaping and SMB Hardscaping. He was contracted to undertake projects for several householders and businesses in Witney, Bletchingdon, Wendlebury and the surrounding areas.

The work involved landscaping and house renovations, including re-rendering and window installation. Mr Allcock quoted prices for the work of between £3,900 and £28,593. He also admitted defrauding other Oxfordshire businesses over the supply of materials that he never paid for.

In all cases, Mr Allcock’s victims had agreed to make stage payments but these were heavily weighted towards the start of the projects and he repeatedly requested further advances, often citing personal issues as the reason additional payments were being requested so early.

When work was started, it was not completed, despite assuring his victims that he had every intention of finishing the jobs. In some cases, as his victims become more and more worried, he offered to repay them all the money he had taken, but never actually paid anything back. What work he did was of a poor standard and valued well below the price charged.

On one project Mr Allcock took over £26,000, but his work was independently valued by a building surveyor, appointed by trading standards, at less than £6,000. In another, Mr Allcock took £14,640 for work valued at £1,489.

All of his victims had to pay additional sums of money to other traders to complete the work; in one case to make their home safe and useable, as Mr Allcock had left it in such a poor state.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “We advise anybody who is looking for a reliable trader to always get a number of detailed quotes, check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader, from our Buy With Confidence scheme.

“We would also advise that customers are cautious when agreeing staged payments for large scale building projects. Paying in instalments for such work is entirely sensible but when the payment schedule is too heavily weighted towards the beginning of the work, it can leave consumers vulnerable.”

Any Oxfordshire resident who has concerns about activity of this nature should report it to trading standards using the national consumer helpline 0808 223 1133.

Full list of charges:

At an earlier hearing on 27 September 2021, Paul Graham Allcock pleaded guilty to 13 counts of ‘fraud by false representation’ contrary to S2 of the Fraud Act and two counts of ‘obtaining services dishonestly’ contrary to S11 of the Fraud Act 2006.

Your Oxfordshire

Click Sign up to hear from us and receive the latest news and updates in our fortnightly newsletter, Your Oxfordshire.