Last reviewed 22 July 2021

A builder who charged more than £600,000 on projects despite being bankrupt, and left one couple forced to live in a mobile home, has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.

In addition, James Prentice from South Devon has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and to pay compensation of £4500 to his victims.

Having been declared bankrupt in December 2014, he was allowed to continue working as a builder through his company, JSP Woodworx, but could not take more than £500 as a deposit from clients without disclosing his bankruptcy.

However, he broke the terms of his Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking (BRU) by taking more than £271,000 to build a retirement home on farmland in Taunton for his victims, claiming that it was for his services and to supply goods needed for the project.

Because of his poor work, Mr Prentice was dismissed in October 2017 after which the victims, then in their late 60s, had to use another builder to finish the building work. This has cost a further £256,000 and left them forced to live in a caravan.

Mr Prentice continued to take money for jobs which he failed to complete and, in each case, neglected to inform his victims of his BRU.

He eventually pleaded guilty to nine counts of obtaining credit without declaring he was the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking.

Glenn Wicks, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “James Prentice should have been fully aware of his bankruptcy restrictions yet obtained a substantial amount of funds whilst providing shoddy work for his victims.”