Channel 5's Cowboy Builders show exposes St Albans rogue trader
PUBLISHED: 06:15 13 September 2012
A ROGUE trader who ripped off a trusting St Albans family to the tune of nearly £30,000 has been publicly humiliated on national television.
Dodgy workman Mark Tatham, 50, was named and shamed on Channel 5 show Cowboy Builders on Monday (10).
As a result of his fraudulent conduct, he has been sentenced for unfair trading and overcharging victims following a successful prosecution by Herts Trading Standards.
His victims included family of four Christophe and Debra Montoya-Timperley, who have lived in their three-bedroom semi in St Albans for 10 years with sons Joshua and Max.
They had embarked on what they had hoped would be a life-changing building project in 2008 after outgrowing their home.
Tatham promised the Montoya-Timperley’s he would build them a two-storey rear extension, for which he quoted £69,000.
They handed over £26,300 of their hard-earned cash as a deposit but 12 weeks into the job all they were left with was a pile of dirt at the front of their property and a small retaining wall out back.
The couple won a county court settlement of £32,000 but were unable to track down the builder to get their money back.
The family’s plight featured on Cowboy Builders, with consumer advocates Dominic Littlewood and Melinda Messenger appalled at the mess Tatham had left in his wake.
Debra told them: “I think I have been through all the emotions – hurt, anger, disbelief, embarrassment and being sick to the stomach.”
Bursting into tears, she admitted, “It’s so hard not to cry. It just breaks your heart.”
A stunned Dominic said: “This guy hasn’t even dug the foundations.”
While a team from the show set about building a scaled down single-storey extension and revamping two bedrooms, Dominic did some sleuthing to track down the rogue trader despite the trail being cold.
He spoke with other families who had been ripped off and businesses affected by the rogue trader, including one in Chiswell Green which was owed thousands of pounds in rent from Tatham.
Dominic also spoke with a Herts Trading Standards spokesman who confirmed they were aware of the builder.
After the presenter eventually tracked Tatham down to the Bristol area, selling kitchens, he set a trap.
When sprung by the television crew, the defiant man asked: “What have I done Dominic?” The presenter told him that he was a “lousy person” who had, “ripped off everyone.”
Tatham replied: “You don’t know the truth” and when Dominic asked about the Montoya-Timperley’s home, he swore at him.
As the rogue trader stormed off, Dominic called out: “Mark Tatham run away, back to your little hole. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Meanwhile in St Albans, the Montoya-Timperley family were overwhelmed at finally seeing their home extended and revamped, including a new kitchen/diner.
Debra told Melinda: “This is amazing. I feel like I’m walking on air.”