Cowboy builder Adam Priestley caused 'untold misery' to 58 victims across Leeds and West Yorkshire in fraud worth almost £500,000

A rogue builder who ruined the lives of dozens of victims in a fraud worth almost half a million pounds has been jailed for five and a half years.

By Tony Gardner
Friday, 25th March 2022, 2:30 pm

Adam Priestley left some homeowners on the brink of suicide by leaving properties uninhabitable after conning them out of life savings and inheritance money.

A court heard how Priestley also targeted elderly and vulnerable victims in a "brazen" deception to fund his addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

Priestley was jailed today after pleading guilty to 19 counts of fraud and two counts relating to possessing counterfeit currency.

Cowboy builder Adam Priestley was jailed for five and a half years at Leeds Crown Court after pleading to 19 counts of fraud worth almost half a million pounds.

Leeds Crown Court heard Priestley, 40, of no fixed address, preyed upon victims after they advertised on social media that they needed building work done on their homes.

Priestley would make contact with homeowners and gained their confidence by showing them fake images of work he had purported to have done for other satisfied customers in a bid to show he was a reputable tradesman.

The conman would then agree quotes with victims and obtain deposits.

Priestley would often demand further payments once work got underway.

Sums demanded were often vastly enlarged before he would suggest to victims that other work was required.

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Priestley also took money from victims to pay for subcontractors who were never paid and for building materials which were never ordered.

Money was also obtained for inspection work or to get planning permission which was never carried out

Priestley would fail to carry out the work or would disappear after starting work, leaving homes uninhabitable or "like a building site."

The court heard how one couple were left without a roof over their kitchen for three months and could only live in one room of their home.

A 75-year-old woman described how her home was left "like a swimming pool" over the Christmas period after Priestley stripped the roof and failed to board it up properly.

The owner of a listed building in Roundhay, Leeds, was forced to climb onto the roof of his home in the dark in winter to keep it covered with a tarpaulin when Priestley disappeared after stripping roof tiles.

Priestley defrauded 58 victims in total.

Fiona Clancy, prosecuting, said the total value of the offending was £473,868.

One of the charges relates to him committing fraud on 40 separate occasions between September 1, 2019, and December 31, 2021.

The offences mainly occurred in West Yorkshire - in Leeds, Bradford, and Kirklees, with others in Harrogate, Rochdale and Colne.

The court heard Priestley would often "fob off" victims after abandoning work by claiming he was sick or that one of his family members had died.

Victims provided statements to the court describing how they had been left feeling suicidal or needed medication for anxiety and depression.

Others described how the offending had destroyed family relationships and caused marriages to suffer.

Phillip Mahoney, mitigating, said Priestley was ashamed of what he had done.

The barrister said his client had been in the building trade since he was 19 and had started a successful company in 2015.

He had initially managed to obtain "prestigious" building contracts with the police and on the railways.

Mr Mahoney said Priestley began abusing cocaine and alcohol after his business partner died in a road accident in 2017.

Sentencing Priestley, Judge Ray Singh said: "You are not a rogue builder. You are a dishonest rogue builder.

"In relation to each of the 58 victims, I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that you had no intention whatsoever in fulfilling your part in the agreement to carry out the works and builds they requested.

"The untold misery that you caused so many people is immeasurable.

"I am afraid you have destroyed lives.

"There can be no hesitation in me coming to the conclusion that the impact of your offending has been high because of that serious detrimental effect, both emotionally and financially, to the majority of your victims.

"Individuals like you bring into disrepute public confidence of genuine hardworking builders."