A rogue roofer from Accrington subjected a cancer survivor to a ‘living nightmare’.
Days after being given the all-clear, Patsy Stevens decided to get her life back on track by getting things she had put off done.
Top of the list was a new roof for her 130-year-old house.
But after she chose builder, Joseph Gerrard, for the job at her terraced home she was forced to endure a “living nightmare” for 18 months.
Gerrard, of St Ledger Court, demanded thousands for the work.
But Patsy returned from holiday to find her roof was open to the elements, rainwater had poured into her house, and her bedroom had been ruined by the water.
Gerrard was prosecuted by Trading Standards and promised to pay Patsy back.
But she has never had a penny from him – and when she turned up at his works address to chase her money she found it didn’t exist.
In June, a year after botching the job at Patsy’s Little Hulton home, Gerrard pleaded guilty to one charge of unfair commercial practice.
But during a break in his case he fled court and spent months at large.
However the 48-year-old was arrested last week and is now expected to be sentenced next month for the original offence and a Bail Act offence, both of which he has admitted.
“It was like a living nightmare”, Patsy said. “I must have sent texts and made phone calls 60 times but he never got back to me. He said he would pay me back but he never did. It has made me very wary.”
Patsy, who works for an IT company, was taken in by Gerrard’s apparent professionalism.
“I had been told a few days earlier that I was in the clear after breast cancer, and needed to get on with things I had put on hold.
"I took out a loan and was hoping to get a new roof, windows, and door.
“Mr Gerrard came round and sounded very professional and knowledgeable, and said he had been in business for 25 years. He said he could start within a week.
"He asked for a £1,000 deposit which made me feel a bit nervous. I wrote a cheque, then cancelled it.
"As soon as I did that he turned up with workmen and materials, and made me feel guilty that I had doubted him. I said OK and paid him £1,000 in cash.”
Gerrard, who had quoted Patsy £3,820 for the job, later demanded another £2,000, he said to pay scaffolders.
“I ended up paying him another £1,500”, she said. “I felt I was over a barrel, with the roof stripped I felt pressure to pay up.
"I went away on holiday thinking he was doing the roof. But when I came back it was such a mess.
Tiles had been removed leaving the rain to come in. Water was running down the walls in the bedroom, and pouring into the loft.
"The work was left unfinished. I never saw him again. I had to pay another, proper roofer, more than £5,000 to do the job.
" I doubt I’ll ever get my money back. I had to borrow more money and it will be another year-and-a-half before I pay it off.
“I cannot believe anyone would treat another human being like this.”