A rogue builder who left his victim with a roof full of holes and more than £7,000 out of pocket has escaped jail.

Joseph Gerrard, of St Ledger Court, Accrington, took £3,500 from Patsy Stevens for a new roof at her home but abandoned the job before it was completed.

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She had to take out a loan to pay another builder almost £4,000 to fix mess he had left behind.

Patsy, an IT worker who had just been the all-clear from cancer, had saved up for five years for the new roof and Velux windows, and found what she thought was a reputable builder on the internet.

Gerrard, who claimed to have been trading for 25 years although he had no qualifications, quoted £3,820 and told the customer his work would be ‘guaranteed’.

Patsy handed over a £1,000 cash deposit - he refused to take a cheque - and then gave him another £1,000 when he turned up with two other workers to begin the job on July 12 last year, a court heard.

But Patsy later found the gutters at her Salford home were blocked with rubble while roof tiles were missing and old tiles had been used, prosecutor Michael Blakey told Manchester Crown Court.

“The scaffolding had disappeared which suggested the job had been completed,” said Mr Blakey.

Patsy managed to call Gerrard but he demanded a further £2,000 and sent his workmen round again on July 21 last year, the day before she was due to go on holiday.

She didn’t have that much so she handed over £1,500 and was assured the work would be completed by the time she returned from her break.

When she came back a week later, she saw the roof still had not been finished, with slates loosely stacked around the roof and gaps between the batons.

She found a huge wet patch in her bedroom and she could see water ‘pouring in’ down the walls.

The court heard she arranged buckets to catch the water and used a plastic sheeting to cover holes in the roof.

Patsy tried to contact the builder at the address he had given but the court heard ‘it didn’t exist’.

She called in trading standards, whose expert concluded Gerrard had left the roof in an unsafe condition, and eventually paid another builder £3,972 to fix the roof properly.

Gerrard claimed he had suffered a brain haemorrhage on August 28 last year which put him in a coma although he presented no medical documents to the court to verify this.

He claimed this rendered him unable to work at all although this didn’t prevent him placing an ad for his services in a local newspaper in March of this year, the court heard.

He was due to be sentenced last month but failed to turn up

Martin Pizzey, defending, said: “He regrets what has taken place. He took the job with the intention of fullfilling it but due to his deteriorating health he was unable to do so.”

Gerrard, 48, who admitted one charge of unfair commercial practice and who has previous-drink-related convictions, was handed a two-year community order which includes 40 days of ‘rehabilitation activity’.

He must also carry out 150 hours unpaid work and must pay £3,500 compensation to his victim.

Judge Hilary Manley told the defendant: “This case is so serious it crosses the custody threshold, but I’m going to draw back from that because you have no previous convictions for similar behaviour or fraudulent acitvity.”