A rogue roofer who left his customers thousands of pounds out of pocket has been brought to justice – after lying he had cancer to get out of work.

Joseph Gardener (35-year-old cowboy builder) left his County Durham homes in disarray after completing work below standard or failing even to finish jobs.

Are you familiar with Gardener? Have you hired him to do a job on your home? 

E-mail: dan.sales@mailonline.co.uk 

He left one customer with tiles falling off his roof onto the shared driveway; another with a hole in his bedroom ceiling; another was forced to go up onto his roof in the middle of the night during a storm, after the tarpaulin came off his roof.

But Gardener still took payments for materials and continually asked his customers to pay the next instalment despite failing to turn up to carry out arranged work.

Gardener made a variety of excuses for his angry customers. One even told him that he had been diagnosed with cancer. 

Teesside Crown Court heard that one victim was driven to a breakdown after Gardener, from J&J Roofing, failed to finish work on his house.

In a statement, the homeowner told the court that he had, ‘worked solidly for three months, 12 hours a day with no socialising to earn the money for a new roof and loft conversion’.

But Gardener failed to turn up on January 17, 2020, to start the work, despite the fact the money for materials had been paid.

Rogue roofer Joseph Gardener performed sub-standard work on houses in County Durham

Joseph Gardener, a rogue roofer, did sub-standard work in County Durham

He failed to complete some jobs and made up excuses to avoid turning up in some cases

He didn’t complete some jobs and made excuses to avoid appearing in certain cases

The homeowner bumped into the builder in the pub, and Gardener promised he’d start on January 20 but then requested further payment.

Gardener began the work but on January 25, the victim discovered a crack in his bedroom ceiling.

The victim then went up onto the roof at 3am, after the tarpaulin Gardener left had been removed.

The man requested his money back, and Gardener turned up and finished the work- but days later, there were more problems.

The water was coming down the walls from the light fittings.

The homeowner had to move back to his parents and get another builder into re-do his roof.

The second builder said that it was the worst job he’d ever done.

Other victims were left with problems including a roof that encroached onto the neighbour’s property by 12 inches; water damage to bedrooms after Gardener left a home without a roof on for a month; and third party workmen turning up asking for payment when Gardener had already been paid for the job.

Gardener pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud spanning just over a year over the poor work

Gardener pleaded guilty in nine fraud cases that spanned just more than a year.

Another victim talked of, ‘lying in my bed having to look up at the ceiling, wondering if it would fall in’.

Other excuses included Gardener saying his van had been broken into and his tools stolen – he then asked for money to buy replacement equipment.

He also said his wife had been rushed to hospital; that he had no internet and a flat tyre.

Prosecutor Anthony Pettengell said Gardener had taken just short of £25,000 in payment from nine separate customers, for work that he had failed to finish or that was completed well below standard.

Gardener pleaded guilty between August 2019 & December 2020 to nine counts fraud.

Defending the roofer, Chris Baker told the court that Gardener’s life had been, ‘in catastrophe for a number of years’.

He had inherited the business from his dad, but hadn’t coped well when his father died in 2018.

Judge Anthony Hawks told Gardener he was not going to send him to prison: ‘You should have realised in the state you were in you were not capable of carrying out this work.

‘This is a sad case, sad for the nine people who have had their lives affected disastrously.

“Sending you to prison would mean that you are unable offer any compensation.

‘But I’ve got to be realistic, it’s better you continue to pay at a level you can afford then making unrealistic offers to compensate.

“It doesn’t prevent these people from seeing you at the county court.

The judge handed Gardener a nine month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and an order with a 30 day rehabilitation requirement.

He ordered Gardener to repay half of what he had been paid- £12,350- to his customers through monthly payments of £750.

Judge added that none of your customers were people of significant wealth. You, through a mixture of fraud, dishonesty and incompetence woefully abused your customer’s trust.

“You can leave the dock. I hope we never again see you.