A fraudster from Nottinghamshire who pressured householders across the East Midlands into paying for shoddy extensions that in many cases needed demolishing has been sentenced today at Nottingham Crown Court.
Victims lost a total of at least £414,000 with many individuals losing tens of thousands due to poor quality – and often illegally carried out – work on extensions, orangeries and conservatories. In many cases, the structures were deemed unsafe and had to be demolished, or required thousands of pounds worth of remedial work.
Victims were repeatedly ‘fobbed off’ when they complained, and requested refunds were not paid.
Simon Horsfield, 47, of Kirkland Avenue, Mansfield, was sentenced to a 5-year custodial sentence for fraudulent trading, contrary to Section 993 of the Companies Act 2006, fraud by false representation, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, carrying on a business for a fraudulent purpose, contrary to Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006, and fraudulent trading, contrary to Section 993 (1) of the Companies Act 2006, between September 2014 and February 2018.
The offences were carried out whilst Mr Horsfield was involved in a company named Duraclad, and during his time running various other companies following its liquidation*.
Mr Horsfield was prosecuted following an investigation led by the National Trading Standards East Midlands Regional Investigation Team, hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council.
One victim, a pensioner, had to borrow money to demolish and rebuild the £22,000 orangery that had ‘water running down the walls’, rising damp and an open drain in it. A surveyor noted that the structure would be unlikely to accommodate wind or snow. She had to sell her property to cover the additional costs.
Another victim, who was a full-time carer to his disabled wife, paid £13,500 for adaptations to their home. He described his experience of hiring Mr Horsfield and an associate, saying they had “completely deceived us, stolen our money, damaged our house and destroyed our garden.” Once the work was ‘complete’, the couple were quoted up to £7,000 by reputable firms, for remedial work.
Victims were initially misled during the sales process, where Horsfield gave the impression of a professional firm that would secure all necessary permissions and provide insurance-backed guarantees – these claims were not true. He promised work would be carried out quickly, but customers experienced repeated delays and were pressured – often aggressively – to pay for works not completed and for materials that never arrived.
Mr Horsfield also regularly claimed he never used subcontractors. This was not true, with many victims subjected to a stream of tradesmen who turned up having not been briefed on the job, and without equipment or materials. When asked, they confirmed they were not employed by Mr Horsfield.
A legitimate building company that Horsfield worked for on a self-employed basis, Right Frame, also lost £120,000 in contracts he siphoned off for himself, diverting money to his own accounts.
Mr Horsfield was initially being investigated alongside an associate, but this individual has since passed away.
Lord Michael Bichard, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “Simon Horsfield’s greed damaged lives, caused great emotional distress, and even cost people their homes. I am delighted that justice has been served today, thanks to the hard work and determination of the Trading Standards teams involved.
“We want to put a stop to this malicious targeting of people simply wanting to improve their homes. If you, or someone you know may have fallen victim to a fraud like this, you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.”
Councillor John Cottee, Cabinet Member for Communities at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is an example that anyone can fall victim to a scam and we would like to recognise that courage of the victims in coming forwards and working with our investigation team to bring Simon Horsfield to justice.
“We would also like to recognise the Trading Standards officers involved in this case who worked tirelessly to get justice for the victims. In all of these cases, works were not carried out to a high standard or were left incomplete, leaving victims to foot the bill to put things right. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to this kind of scam we would urge you to report it.”
- Duraclad – a joint venture between Simon Horsefield and an associate, that was dissolved in 2015 due to insolvency. These morphed into Simon Brown Construction and Design a Room
- No Salesman Required – owned and operated by Mr Horsfield, which morphed into East Midlands Design and Build
- Legitimate company Right Frame – which hired Simon Horsfield as a salesman on a self-employed basis. Mr Horsfield took £120,000 in contracts from Right Frame, running them through his accounts while claiming to represent Right Frame.