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Cowboy builder gloated online about his Aston Martin, massive TV and luxury holiday before he was jailed for five years for fleecing 50 families out of £650,000


A cowboy builder who scammed more than 50 families out of £650,000 bragged about his wealth and lavish lifestyle on social media. 

Lawrence Martin ‘took advantage’ of vulnerable customers including one woman who was having work done to help her dying father-in-law. 

The ‘fundamentally dishonest’ 36-year-old pressured clients into paying tens of thousands of pounds in deposits to ensure work could begin, before declaring more work needed doing as costs soared.

One couple lost more than £110,000 as a result of his fraud, while dozens of heartbroken victims were left with wrecked homes and empty bank accounts as their life savings were cleaned out in a campaign of fraud that lasted a ‘very long time’.

Now, MailOnline have been sent images of his Instagram posts, which show Martin bragging about luxury sports cars, lavish holidays and expensive electronic goods – all while some of his victims were forced to take out loans to make ends meet. 

In a post from 2020, the conman shared a picture of a 2016 grey and blue Aston Martin Vantage, worth upwards of £50,000. 

Were you scammed by Lawrence Martin? Email: gina.kalsi@mailonline.co.uk

Lawrence Martin (pictured) 'took advantage' of vulnerable customers including one woman who was having work done to help her dying father-in-law, a court heard on Wednesday

Lawrence Martin (pictured) ‘took advantage’ of vulnerable customers including one woman who was having work done to help her dying father-in-law, a court heard on Wednesday

In a post from 2020, the conman shared a picture of a 2016 grey and blue Aston Martin Vantage, worth upwards of £50,000

In a post from 2020, the conman shared a picture of a 2016 grey and blue Aston Martin Vantage, worth upwards of £50,000

In March 2022, Martin jetted on holiday to Paphos Cyprus with his wife and their child

In March 2022, Martin jetted on holiday to Paphos Cyprus with his wife and their child

Damage and poor work at customer Chrissie Bacon's home that Lawrence Martin worked on

Damage and poor work at customer Chrissie Bacon’s home that Lawrence Martin worked on

Martin was jailed for five years for his 'disgraceful conduct' at Southampton Crown Court. Pictured: Chrissie Bacon's house

Martin was jailed for five years for his ‘disgraceful conduct’ at Southampton Crown Court. Pictured: Chrissie Bacon’s house 

He wrote: ‘The day has come, I finally pick up the keys for the Aston Martin Lawrence Martin edition! Let’s go #astonmartin’ 

Another post saw the swindler gloated about his new Samsung flat screen 85 inch television. He said: ‘Think I may have misjudged the size of the TV I have just bought, s***.’ 

In March 2022, Martin jetted on holiday to Paphos Cyprus with his wife and their child. 

He shared a picture from the balcony of the hot Mediterranean country and penned: ‘Honeymoon with my beautiful wife and little baby boy!’ 

Chrissie and Mark Bacon spent £44,000 on work to house her terminally ill father-in-law, but it was never completed. They had been hoping he could spend Christmas with them but he died without being able to live out his final days with his family. They now have to pay another £30,000 to repair the damage.

Meanwhile Martin was also targeting Sharon Netley and partner Paul Harris for a £92,000 job. His work was so bad they had to spend another £22,000 remedying his appalling efforts. 

The court heard Martin – who had no official roofing qualifications but is trained as an electrician – shamelessly told one customer ‘you got more chance of winning the lottery’ than getting a refund.

And over a nearly five year period, the father-of-four left customers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in tears, with some even having to change the locks to stop him returning.

Martin, of Southampton, (pictured) acquired many of his customers through the Rated People website

Martin, of Southampton, (pictured) acquired many of his customers through the Rated People website

Another post saw the swindler gloated about his new Samsung flat screen 85 inch television

Another post saw the swindler gloated about his new Samsung flat screen 85 inch television

Cowboy builder Lawrence Martin's house located in Southampton, as told to the court

Cowboy builder Lawrence Martin’s house located in Southampton, as told to the court

Mark and Chrissie Bacon had dreams of converting their garage so Mr Bacon's dying father Richard could spend his final days with them and his grandchildren

Mark and Chrissie Bacon had dreams of converting their garage so Mr Bacon’s dying father Richard could spend his final days with them and his grandchildren

Richard Bacon died waiting for Martin to finish the garage conversion

Richard Bacon died waiting for Martin to finish the garage conversion 

The work that he did complete was so shoddy, many cancelled the rest, demanded a refund and had to fork out thousands more on professionals to fix the damage he had done.

On Wednesday, after admitting two counts of fraudulent trading and one of fraud,  Martin showed no remorse as he was caged for five years for his ‘disgraceful conduct’ at Southampton Crown Court.

After admitting two counts of fraudulent trading and one of fraud Martin did not react as he was jailed for five years for his ‘disgraceful conduct’ at Southampton Crown Court.

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.

He was also made subject of a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order, barring him from any kind of building or roofing work. He will however be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release.

Outside court victim Ms Netley said: ‘It will never be long enough, after two and a half years he could be out.

‘We were left in debt, we had to take loans from the bank, credit cards.’

Couple Chrissie and Mark Bacon – who were stung for an enormous amount – said: ‘It was a very expensive and painful mistake, and this has been the worst time of our lives.

Mrs Bacon added: ‘During this time, dad’s health deteriorated. We hassled Lawrence more and more to complete the house, but he would not do so.’

They spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work. 

An additional £30,000 still needs to be spent, she said.

‘We have lived here for 16 years, and this was meant to be our forever home,’ she added.

Another victim, who did not wish to be named but had been scammed out of nearly £50,000 said: ‘We won’t recover.

‘You don’t recover easily from that.

‘I’m glad justice has been done and something is happening about it.

The damage from at customer Chrissie Bacon's house from Martin's appalling work there

The damage from at customer Chrissie Bacon’s house from Martin’s appalling work there

The court has ruled that Martin will be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release. Boarded up windows at Chrissie Bacon's home

The court has ruled that Martin will be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release. Boarded up windows at Chrissie Bacon’s home

Chrissie (pictured) and Mark Bacon spent £44,000 on work to house her terminally ill father-in-law, but it was never completed. They now have to pay another £30,000 to repair the damage

Chrissie (pictured) and Mark Bacon spent £44,000 on work to house her terminally ill father-in-law, but it was never completed. They now have to pay another £30,000 to repair the damage

Chrissie and Mark Bacon, who spent £44,000 on a garage conversion to house her terminally ill father-in-law, have been left with incomplete work by Martin after hiring him in the summer of 2021. Pictured: Their home

Chrissie and Mark Bacon, who spent £44,000 on a garage conversion to house her terminally ill father-in-law, have been left with incomplete work by Martin after hiring him in the summer of 2021. Pictured: Their home

‘The piece I take away from it is there is power in making a stand.

‘There was clearly a formula that was in place – you take a bit of comfort you’re not the only one.

‘We have found a community here, that’s helping us all get through it.’

Martin was also made subject of a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order, barring him from any kind of building or roofing work. He will however be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release.

Earlier prosecutor Ethu Crorie told the court his offending was split in two periods – while sole director of Eastleigh-based firm CLJ roofing and when he continued with his own personal bank account, between January 2018 and October 2022.

His vulnerable clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man.

‘In brief, Martin quoted for building/roofing works at a property,’ he said.

‘He gave the impression that he was a successful and professional trader.

‘Pressure was placed on customers to agree to the work quickly, potential dates for starting the work were suggested but would only be available if a deposit was paid.

‘Once the work started, frequently, he would identify further works and the costs would grow.

‘Customers felt obliged to agree to these additional works for a number of reasons including the fact that the work had already been started and the fact that Martin would state that the work was being done at a discount because he was already on site.

‘Customers were also misled with frequent representations about the need to pay for specific materials and items such as scaffolding.

‘These materials didn’t arrive on site.

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence

‘He also asked for additional payments to cover, for example, workers that needed to be paid and shortfalls to cover him misquoting the job.

‘Martin, in truth, was lying about what the money was going to be used for.’

When consumers complained, Martin made excuses including references to the imminent death of his mother, problems with suppliers, workers, other consumers and vehicles.

The work was either not completed or was done so poorly that remedial costs were incurred.

The court heard Martin ‘took advantage of the consumers’ vulnerability’ by stating that if they continued to complain he would walk off the job and refund them money.

He also ‘frequently’ stated he would be refunding money – but the majority did not receive anything.

‘When he did refund people, it was, it seems, only with a view to having them remove negative reviews from various sites,’ Mr Crorie added.

Martin, of Southampton, acquired many of his customers through the Rated People website.

The court was read Martin’s correspondence with disgruntled customers, which included telling the concerned daughter of an 84-year-old on the Isle of Wight, that ‘there is not a chance in hell’ of a refund after his botch-up job.

His work was so bad it caused one homeowner’s brother to stop talking to him after he recommended Martin’s services, the court heard.

One family, who live in Chandler’s Ford, were told ‘you got more chance of winning the lottery’, when they sought a refund of £8,500.

For any that did receive money back – often promised at a measly rate of £100 per month, which never arrived – it was on the condition they remove any negative reviews.

One couple, from Alresford, near Winchester, lost £48,794 and had to spend a further £40,000 correcting the mess he had made.

Martin's clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man

Martin’s clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man

The court heard Martin 'took advantage of the consumers' vulnerability' by stating that if they continued to complain he would walk off the job and refund them money. Pictured: Damage to Chrissie's property

The court heard Martin ‘took advantage of the consumers’ vulnerability’ by stating that if they continued to complain he would walk off the job and refund them money. Pictured: Damage to Chrissie’s property 

A building surveyor expert stated that ‘beyond the initial roof repair all other work undertaken by the trader was unnecessary’ and that there was no justification for the complete roof to be stripped of tiles and replaced with slate.

The court heard Martin ‘misled’ them by advising there were rotten timbers in the roof.

He told a querying customer he did not have membership to the Competent Roofer scheme – but that ’90 per cent of roofers did not have it either’.

It was heard Martin would ‘keep finding new work to do’ despite ‘not completing any of the work already paid for’.

Martin told Paul Harris that if he removed Facebook comments and the complaint to Trading Standards, then he would refund the £50,000.

However, he never returned the money, the court heard.

His latter dealings with Sharon Netley and Mr Harris, a job that started in September 2021 but continued into October 2022, occurred whilst he was on bail.

‘This defendant shouldn’t be doing any work of this kind at all – he is clearly absolutely incompetent,’ Mr Crorie said.

‘He is fundamentally dishonest.’

In a police interview, he admitted he had no formal qualifications in relation to roofing and had never heard of the Competent Roofer Scheme.

Defending, Jennifer Brenton said his trading ‘was not fraudulent from the outset’. However, she admitted Martin was ‘erroneously’ identifying work to be done.

She said it was at this point, with complaints rising and refunds being requested, Martin started ‘robbing from Peter to pay Paul’ to try and pay off the ‘irate’ customers.

Ms Brenton said Martin felt remorse and wanted to pass on his apologies to those he had defrauded.

Judge Peter Henry said: ‘He may be incompetent at building, but he is not incompetent at defrauding people.

‘There was serious harm caused as evidenced by their victim personal statements.

‘The impact upon those has been substantial, not just in terms of financial loss but in terms of health, anxiety and depression and work they have had to do to get their premises repaired properly.

Cracks and holes in the walls of Chrissie Bacon's property, one of Martin's clients

Cracks and holes in the walls of Chrissie Bacon’s property, one of Martin’s clients 

Chrissie (pictured is her property) said: 'It was a very expensive and painful mistake, and this has been the worst time of our lives'

Chrissie (pictured is her property) said: ‘It was a very expensive and painful mistake, and this has been the worst time of our lives’

Chrissie said that an additional £30,000 still needs to be spent on her damaged property

Chrissie said that an additional £30,000 still needs to be spent on her damaged property 

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work. Pictured: Their property

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work. Pictured: Their property 

‘Serious, detrimental harm has been caused by you – your consumers have incurred considerable costs.

‘Your disgraceful conduct persisted over a very long time.

‘You defrauded over 50 victims, you used bullying and aggressive behaviour to your customers, including using a false identity in order to continue to perpetrate fraud, after CLJ ceased to exist.

‘People like you are a thorough menace – not only giving the building industry a bad name but for causing victims devastating injury.’

‘The impact of what you did on people is significant.

‘Many of your customers were vulnerable.’



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