The County You Live, Work And Play
Builder Destroys Conservatory
A builder destroyed a family's new conservatory with a sledgehammer after a dispute over payment on a £30,000 building project.
George Gentles, 54, was furious when the double glazing firm who had contracted him to carry out £4,100 worth of work at a house in Larkhall, refused to pay up.
Homeowner David Huggins, 67, had agreed a contract with conservatory specialists Everest, but a series of building delays led to Gentles being hired by them to put in a foundation wall.
The work was completed but Gentles then struggled to get Everest to hand over money for the work at the property, a court heard.
His own business was strapped for cash and he was relying on the payment to pay wages and buy materials.
Letters, emails and phone calls were exchanged but when the money failed to appear he returned to the house and demolished the wall, as a stunned Mr Huggins, along with his wife and son looked on.
CCTV footage from the incident in April last year shows Gentles and a co-worker repeatedly striking the brick work with hammers, leaving it in ruins in a half hour long demolition.
Gentles, of Baillieston, Glasgow, admitted his wrecking spree during an appearance at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Procurator Fiscal depute Vishnu Kathuria said: 'On the date in question, the accused arrived at the site stating he had not been paid by the company Everest.
'The complainer contacted them and spoke with a Paul Stevenson and eventually the phone call was passed to the accused.
'Mr Stevenson spoke to the accused and there was an exchange of words and then handed the phone back to the complainer.
'He then proceeded to smash and tear down the wall he had constructed himself with a sledgehammer and ordered an employee to do the same.
'The accused then got in his van and drove off.
'The complainer, who had just got out of hospital a couple of days earlier and suffers from a chronic disorder, was extremely distressed and this made him very anxious.
'His 63-year-old wife and 31-year-old son were also alarmed by this and were in tears regarding what damage had been caused and if the accused would return and police were called in.
'In respect of the damage, the company Everest rebuilt the wall at no extra cost to the complainer.'
Vincent McGovern, mitigating, said Gentles was £7,000 in debt when he cracked and has since closed his company down.
He added: 'He has never been in trouble before and he regrets the impact this had on the complainer.
'This sort of behaviour would be extremely frightening.
'He believed he owned the materials until he was paid for them but he understands what he did was wrong.'
Sheriff Andrew McIntyre deferred sentence for reports, telling Gentles: 'This was, as you now admit, quite awful behaviour and it was quite a shocking scene we saw on the CCTV.
'It must have been very distressing for the family watching you demolish part of their home no matter what the background was. 'I will keep all options open at this stage.'
Claims Gentles also used a wrecking ball were dropped by prosecutors.
A spokesman for Everest said: 'Mr Gentles had carried out nine previous jobs for Everest, where the work was satisfactory and he had been paid on time. However, in this case there were a number of issues with the job that needed rectifying, and this work needed to be carried out before Mr Gentles could be paid.
'We have 7 day payment terms for our subcontractors and Mr Gentles’ invoice was actually in our system to be paid on the very day he knocked down the wall. He had been told that by the project manager, however he went ahead and wrecked the base wall - obviously once he had done that we stopped the payment.
'We were shocked by his actions, and fully understood the impact this had on our customer. We rebuilt the base and upgraded the conservatory at our cost and added a gesture of goodwill by way of further apology.'