Cowboy builder destroyed Birmingham homes in £ 152k racket employing criminals and addicts

A rogue builder boasting of ‘world class service’ systematically destroyed homes across Birmingham as he provided ‘shambolic’ works carried out by drug addicts and criminals. Waheed Butt ‘promised heaven but delivered hell’ according to his devastated customers, many of whom were plundered of their life savings while some were effectively rendered homeless.

The 49-year-old ‘career fraudster’ who was also said to be a ‘prolific gambler’, conned around a dozen victims out of more than £ 150,000 worth of shoddy works. He targeted vulnerable people, typically on RatedPeople or MyBuilder websites, looking for home improvements such as new kitchens, windows and extensions.

But the works were either never finished or carried out to a dangerous or substandard quality. Building surveyors condemned at least two of the projects calling for them to be dismantled and reconstructed because they were unsafe.

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Butt’s scheme came crashing down after reports were made to Birmingham City Council trading standards and he was recalled to prison, having carried out the racket whilst on license for dodgy car sales offences which earned him a prison sentence in 2016. Now of Wokingham Road, Reading, he admitted a charge of fraudulent trading in relation to his latest crimes.

At Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, May 16 he was jailed for six years and disqualified from being a company director for eight years. Prosecutor Ben Mills branded Butt a ‘criminal fraudster’ due to his 100 previous convictions, the vast majority being for fraud, theft and ‘dishonesty’ offences.

He stated shortly after his release from prison in 2018 he started building company WB Infrastructure. Mr Mills said: “He had little if any practical experience in the building trade. It didn’t take long for his instincts di lui to take over.

“Not withstanding his lack of experience he promised to provide a ‘world class service’. Instead he provided a shambles infused with dishonesty. Most of the people he employed were people he met in prison or on probation. In interview he described the lads he was working with as f *** ing complete and utter b **** ks; a lot of drug addicts or they had been in prison. “

Butt initially operated the business as a sole trader but during 2019 ‘acted behind the veil of a corporation to give the false sheen of respectability’. He even embroiled one of his sons by him by putting his name by him on banking documents and naming him as a bogus director due to people Googling his own name by him and finding out about his criminal past by him.

There were 13 complainants, mainly customers who had been ripped off as well as a handful of businesses caught up in Butt’s web of deceit. The court heard Butt had set aside £ 152,000 to compensate them although the victims claimed their total losses to be in excess of £ 200,000.

Mr Mills said the defendant promised refunds but failed to pay them or made checks out to people from bank accounts which had already closed. He added: “He used private bank accounts of his son and wife to conceal the proceeds of his offending, putting those funds out of reach of potential creditors. He gave them access to business funds for personal expenditure, holidays, weddings, other things and gambling. “

The prosecutor summarized the impact on victims stating Butt left a retired couple ‘devastated’ and ‘mentally scarred’ after swindling them out of £ 35,000 only to abandon the project. He stated a teacher’s home was unhabitable for nine months while a widow paid nearly £ 50,000 out of her life savings only to have her property di lei ‘ruined front and back’.

One victim said: “I had many conversations and discussed the importance of my property. It has been my family home for 60 years. My parents invested their whole lives in it. Waheed appeared sympathetic.

“Now to find out he had no intention to complete the work is horrifying. It’s worse than stealing because I have been put in a position where I have had to continue to spend and borrow money to make the property livable.

Birmingham Crown Court
Birmingham Crown Court

“He talked me into a dream home which in my current circumstances I will never have. It was a dream I never had before I met him.”

While another, who claimed they had spent nearly £ 60,000 after initially inquiring about a loft on My Builder, added: “This man promised me heaven and delivered hell. He brought me to my knees.”

Mr Mills said: “His actions have extinguished life savings, ruined future benefit entitlements, rendered some people virtually homeless, left vulnerable people and families in serious distress and had a substantial lasting emotional impact on nearly all of the customer victims.

“Imagine that’s the house in which you live left in the state in which it was left and you have given all of your money to someone so you can’t put it right. Homes were destroyed systematically in many of the cases.”

Andrew Walker, defending, argued Butt had not set up the business as a fraudulent enterprise from the outset and ‘had the rug pulled from beneath him’ when he was recalled to prison in December 2019 at a time many of the building jobs were ongoing. He added some work had been carried out to a satisfactory standard during the period and some customers had even recommended him.

Waheed Butt leaving Birmingham Crown Court after a previous hearing
Waheed Butt leaving Birmingham Crown Court after a previous hearing

Mr Walker told the court that since his release Butt had carried out various charity work, played an active role at a cricket club training young players and had gained employment. He said: “Mr Butt genuinely believed he would be able to carry out all of the work he took on. He simply took too much on. He is sorry for this and the difficulties which have been caused to the complainants in this case.”

The barrister added: “He says he has completely changed his life around since his release and he acknowledges at the same time his past is a horrible past which has included substantial periods of imprisonment.”

He argued the case was ‘exceptional’ and could warrant a two-year prison sentence which could be suspended, but Recorder Cieciora disagreed. She said: “You accept you caused loss to 13 complainants. You took advantage of vulnerability and abused trust placed in you. Most were left with debts and living environments which were simply awful.”

The judge added: “Some lost entire savings, many homes were dangerous and others virtually unhabitable. All of the victims went significant periods of time when their homes were significantly below a standard for living.”

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