A building contractor who defrauded unsuspecting customers out of almost £180,000 by taking deposits – in some instances for up to 50 per cent - but never completing the work has been jailed. 

Paul McAloon (38) from Eshnadarragh Road, Rosslea was arrested at Belfast International Airport in March 2022 as he disembarked from a flight.

He admitted 30 counts of fraud by false representation which a further charge knowing engaging in a commercial practice after initially failing to apply for planning permission and failing to complete work was left on the court books Offending occurred on various dates between April 2022 and March 2022.

Dungannon Crown Court heard McAloon who initially denied the charges before later changing his plea, ran a successful building company but it ran into financial difficulties.

He began taking money from victims as deposits for work contending this would commence as soon as possible the understanding but never did.

In addition, McAloon would obtain materials from building supply companies which were never paid for.

Addressing McAloon directly Judge Brian Sherrard said: “Your business capacity was to complete 8-10 large jobs a year and you’ve offered no credible explanation taking on the unsustainable workload within these timeframes. You could not have believed you could have completed the work you were promising.”

He noted money paid into McAloon’s bank account was paid out instantly and he was defaulting on payments owed to suppliers.

Victims all reported him as presenting in a “charming and confident manner” while seeking significant deports to secure jobs.

“Thereafter you made excuse after excuse. On occasions, you would attend to do small quantities of work all in an effort to stall complaints. You also promised to return money but it never was. The deposits were used to pay running costs, wages and suppliers for other jobs in progress and not for the work promised. No stock from suppliers was found at your yard.”

Judge Sherrard held McAloon reached a point with his victims where he dishonestly misrepresented his intentions to carry out the work and: “It’s clear you need their money to pay the bills for other jobs and keep you company afloat … When your credit with suppliers ran out you knew you could never have completed the jobs started with your determined promises.”

McAloon had a previously good work record with Judge Sherrard adding: “Although I temper that with the realisation that your work has caused you to come before the court … It must have become apparent to you that the obligations made may not be met. You effectively took this money and theft then fobbed people off who had already given you money with other reassurances which were also false.”

The judge accepted the fraud was not to maintain a high-value luxurious lifestyle but rather was to fund McAloon’s failing business, but “it became a roller-coaster which had gone out of control. However, there was some degree of planning involved and you continued when it was quite apparent your obligations would not be met.”

Imposing a term of two years imprisonment to be divided equally between custody and on licence, Judge Sherrard concluded: “The most significant aspect for me is that so many people were affected by your fraud.

"These are people who worked hard and saved hard for the home improvements they paid for but did not receive. Windows were left unfinished as was a dog run and even a sensory room for a child with autism was left uncompleted. The inconvenience, loss, stress and distress of the victims is obvious.”