Bankrupt builder risks jail if $15k fine unpaid
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.