'He was lying through his teeth' - widower's grief as dying wife's dream 'shattered' by cowboy builder
PUBLISHED: 08:37 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:23 14 May 2019
A dying woman and her caring husband were denied their dream conservatory after a rogue builder conned them out of thousands of pounds, before boldly ripping up a receipt in front of their eyes.
The pair fell victims to Andrew Jay, who repeatedly targeted homeowners across Lowestoft and beyond by taking money for false promises of work never to be completed.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been left with nothing but the surrounding base from the conservatory they paid Jay £6,000 to build in 2016.
His wife passed away from pancreatic cancer two years ago, 18 months after being given five weeks to live.
He said: "It was a very traumatic time and I was a wreck.
"I was caring for my wife so I wasn't in a good place, and he knew the situation, but he was giving us pressure to pay him. He kept asking for money.
"My wife was devastated and she told me we wouldn't get our money back. For most of that time I was looking after her and I was going through hell. It is the worst kind of cancer you can have.
"He came at the wrong time and the wrong place for me. Everyone knew what we were going through and that left a bad taste in my mouth."
After dreaming of the new conservatory for around nine years, the pair reached out to Jay's AGH Builders business after finding him online.
The man said: "Out of the eight builders we contacted, he was the only one who responded. We asked about recommendations and he said he had been doing it for 20 years so we gave him the go-ahead.
"I showed him the conservatory we wanted and he took the measurements and said he could do it, so he took the old one down and put it in his warehouse and I never saw it again.
"Then said he needed money for repairs so I paid him.
"I asked when he would start the floor and he kept saying it was going to rain so he couldn't lay it, but it never did.
"He was always saying he would have it done in six to eight weeks, but this went on and on for over a year."
The man was unable to pay another builder to complete or repair the work after Jay refused to pay back the money he had taken, including ripping up a receipt in front of him.
He said: "He said he wasn't happy that I'd gone to another builder.
"He told me we wouldn't need a receipt so ripped it up in front of me and put it in his pocket. How deceitful can you be? Luckily I had already made a copy and I gave it straight to the police.
"He was lying through his teeth to my face, and I know that it wasn't just me."
Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court last week, Jay, of Brook Close, Carlton Colville, was jailed for four years after admitting eight counts of fraud between May 2016 and August 2017.
The 56-year-old targeted homes across Lowestoft, including on Essex Road, Marbella Green, Church Road and Corton Road, as well as Carlton Square in Carlton Colville and Seafield Road North in Caister.
In 2014, Jay had been handed an anti-social behaviour order banning him from operating a building company after taking money from customers and failing to complete all or some of the work.
A hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act is due to take place in June.
His victim said: "Four years is nothing. It is a farce and not justice. He will be out on the streets again before you know it.
"I couldn't even think of doing this to anyone. Given the amount of money he conned people out of, I thought he would have got at least nine years.
"He is a proper rogue who has done this before and if I see him doing work for anyone again, I will report him and tell whoever is paying him.
"He says he doesn't have the money but I don't believe he could have spent it all. He has it hidden away somewhere."
Between caring tirelessly for his wife and dealing with Jay, the man was also left battling suicidal thoughts, but was determined not to let Jay "win."
He said: "It was stressful and I was panicking several times every day. I couldn't sleep and it was agony.
"I felt like my guts had been pulled out and I had nothing left. It was really horrible.
"I feel like I can never trust another builder again. I will have to save for another three years until I retire to be able to pay someone to do this. I didn't know he would be a conman.
"I haven't seen a penny of my money. He could buy himself a nice new house with the money he has conned out of people in this town.
"We wanted the conservatory for about nine years but now we won't have it at all.
"It was her dream but he shattered it completely."