Bank­rupt builder risks jail if $15k fine un­paid

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

NOT show­ing up to the Proser­pine Mag­is­trate’s Court hasn’t saved a bank­rupt builder from a fine of $15,000.

Steve Pre­ston, 56, was pros­e­cuted by the Queens­land Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Com­mis­sion, re­sult­ing in con­vic­tions on nine charges re­lat­ing to five prop­er­ties in the Proser­pine area.

The QBCC be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing Pre­ston in 2012, when the for­mer Build­ing Ser­vices Author­ity re­ceived com­plaints about his un­li­censed and de­fec­tive build­ing work.

On Mon­day, the Proser­pine Mag­is­trate’s Court heard how Pre­ston con­structed re­lo­cat­able cabin-style homes and or­gan­ised for their de­liv­ery and in­stal­la­tion.

It was al­leged in some cases he took large de­posits and left con­sumers with in­com­plete work. In other cases he was ac­cused of pro­vid­ing de­fec­tive work that needed to be fixed.

QBCC legal of­fi­cer Jessie Jag­ger said Pre­ston had never held a QBCC li­cence. She then out­lined spe­cific com­plaints, in­clud­ing a home­owner who en­dured 10 months of “slow, un­or­gan­ised and sub­stan­dard work” af­ter pay­ing $9000 for res­tump­ing, reroof­ing and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of her prop­erty, even­tu­ally deemed “non-com­pli­ant” and “sub­stan­dard” by the QBCC.

In an­other sit­u­a­tion, Ms Jag­ger said Pre­ston “sim­ply stopped work” and did not re­fund any of the $8000 he had been paid.

In a case dat­ing back to June last year, she told the court he de­manded a $10,000 de­posit – sub­stan­tially more than the legal max­i­mum of $1500. Ms Jag­ger said in this case work was not even started, leav­ing the home­owner $10,000 out of pocket.

“It’s hard to imag­ine any other sit­u­a­tions of such de­lib­er­ate of­fend­ing and care­less dis­re­gard for the com­mu­nity,” Ms Jag­ger said, adding that Pre­ston’s ac­tions war­ranted the high­est penal­ties avail­able

Mag­is­trate Ron Muir­head im­posed a $15,000 fine plus court and pro­fes­sional costs.

QBCC com­mis­sioner Steve Grif­fin said the case was a warn­ing to the com­mu­nity.

“If a builder asks for an up­front de­posit or fails to pro­vide a li­cence num­ber, this is a sign to con­sumers that this is not an in­di­vid­ual to en­gage with, as both of th­ese are il­le­gal prac­tices,” Mr Grif­fin said.

Mean­while, Pre­ston could face pos­si­ble jail time of up to 80 days if his fine is un­paid.

Any­one with more in­for­ma­tion about him is asked to phone QBCC on 139 333 or visit www.qbcc.qld.gov.au.

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