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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 17:37 GMT
Cowboy builder gets landmark Asbo
David Flaherty
David Flaherty was given an Asbo for five years
A builder has been given an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) to protect the public from being ripped-off.

David Flaherty, 40, from Manchester, who has 56 previous convictions, took money for jobs he did not complete.

Mr Flaherty was also jailed for three and a half years after pleading guilty to deception and theft.

Asbos are commonly used to curb loutish behaviour such as graffiti or noise. This application is believed to be the first of its kind.

Unfinished business

Mr Flaherty placed adverts in newspapers calling himself "Jak - a building contractor" and advertised a fixed price for building extensions.

What you have done undermines the confidence of people in the building trade generally
Judge Dafydd Hughes
But after homeowners had handed over money, the jobs were not completed.

Mr Flaherty had been due to stand trial next month on fraud charges totalling 71,000, but following negotiations he admitted at Mold Crown Court in North Wales to three offences of deception and one of theft to the value of more than 13,000.

In one case, an owner of a take away lost 6,450 for an extension, which was never completed.

Mr Flaherty's lawyer said he started the projects in good faith, but could not manage the work.

Profession repudiation

Mr Flaherty's Asbo - valid for five years - will come into effect once he has completed his jail sentence.

Under the terms of the Asbo, Mr Flaherty cannot work in the building industry unless he is employed by a bona fide construction company.

Mr Flaherty must also not advertise his services, actively seek or take money off people for building work.

His occupation appeared to be conning people
Tony Collard, Cheshire Trading Standards officer

Judge Dafydd Hughes said that although the prison sentence reflected the severity of the offence, in itself, it would not provide adequate protection to the public.

"You are someone who has preyed on the trust and gullibility of others. What you have done undermines the confidence of people in the building trade generally," said Mr Hughes.

Tony Collard, a Cheshire trading standards officer, welcomed the sentence.

"You cannot prosecute someone for being a bad builder. But when we got complaints we found that he had been jailed in Staffordshire for exactly the same thing," he said.

"It was a pattern because as soon as he was released then he started doing the same thing again. His occupation appeared to be conning people."

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