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Couple and new-born baby left without heating by builder who ‘walked off’ before finishing extension, court hears

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:05 15 January 2019

John and Catherine Miller leaving Norwich Crown Court.  Picture: Archant

John and Catherine Miller leaving Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Archant

A couple and their new born baby were left without heating by a Norwich builder who was working on their new home extension, a court heard.

Stuart Firth told a Norwich Crown Court jury how he hired John Miller to build a two-storey extension to his home near North Walsham.

Miller, 46, had quoted £19,000 and said the work would take 10 weeks but Mr Firth said it ended up with long delays and Miller walking off the job leaving him to pay another £3,500 to £4,000 to get some of the work finished.

Miller, of Three Mile Lane, Costessey, has denied fraudulent trading and money laundering in a prosecution brought by Norfolk County Council trading standards.

Mr Firth said work started on February 22, 2017, but after a couple of weeks’ work it slowed. despite Mr Firth telling Miller his wife was expecting a baby. He said Miller promised to get an ensuite finished by then.

On March 9, Miller told Mr Firth the existing boiler would not be sufficient for the extension and a new one was needed, costing £5,500. He said on the same day Miller asked for £2,750 towards the plumber and £5,000 for the second payment.

Mr Firth said he paid in the hope it might move things along as they now had a newborn baby in the house with no hot water or heating. He said he kept texting Miller to try to get things moving but Miller kept letting him down and made constant excuses.

Mr Firth said that by April 25 Miller still had not sent a plumber round so Mr Firth asked for his £2,750 back but Miller said he would take the cash off the final bill. Mr Firth then employed his own plumber to get the job done.

Mr Firth said by May 10 work was at a standstill and in desperation he asked Miller how much extra it would cost to make his job a priority and they agreed if he paid £6,000 he would get it finished.

But after two weeks things slowed down and by June 2017, work had stopped, the court heard. He said the electrician also came round to say he had not been paid and refused to sign off the work.

Mr Firth said he then had to pay the electrician and claimed Miller walked off the job after he refused to advance him any more cash.

Miller’s wife Catherine, 38, has also been charged with money laundering, which she denies.

The trial continues.

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