Godmanchester homeowner victim of rogue workmen

A GODMANCHESTER pensioner has been left with thousands of pounds worth of damage after rogue builders bungled repair-work on his garage roof.

Workmen, who claimed to be from a company called Direct, were meant to be doing minor re-pointing work to the garage of retired post-master Ken Negus.

But minutes into the job one of them fell through the roof, releasing potentially lethal asbestos into the air and damaging a car that was in the garage.

The pair then fled the scene leaving Mr Negus, 89 and his wife Daphne, with a repair bill that could reach into the thousands. Professional contractors must be brought in to clean up the asbestos and fears are Mrs Negus’ car, a Hyundai Accent, could be a write-off.

Mr Negus, who has lived at the Pinfold Lane property for 50 years, said one of the men knocked at his door offering to replace the crumbling mortar of his garage on Tuesday, March 8.

He was shown a folder of previous work and after agreeing on a price, the man said Mr Negus would not have to pay until the job was finished.

Mr Negus said: “A little later his mate turned up in a white transit van. They started work and not many minutes later, one of them went through the garage roof, which was asbestos. They should have put a plank down to support their weight.

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“I said ‘I hope your insurance covers you.’ One of the men said ‘I shall have to ring my boss. Can I use your phone?’ He then asked for a pen and paper. When I came back into the kitchen, he had gone, as well as his mate and the van.”

The pair, left no names or contact details. Police are appealing for information regarding the men, one of whom was described as in his 20s, about 5 foot 8 and of medium build.

Mr Negus is also warning other householders to be on their guard.

He said: “There is a large slab of asbestos on the roof. At the moment we have covered it with plastic to stop any rain getting into it. It can only be handled by asbestos firms. Just to get rid of the asbestos will cost �1,000.

“The roof has came down on to my wife’s car. We know the back window is smashed, but I cannot inspect it properly because of the asbestos. If the roof (of the car) is damaged it will probably be a write-off. Car roofs are expensive to replace. It means we will probably only get �1000 for the car, and it is worth a lot more than that.”

A police spokesman said: “Officers were called to Pinfold Lane just before 1pm on Tuesday, March 8. A crime was raised for criminal damage.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council’s trading standards department said: “Homeowners should never accept offers to carry out work from unsolicited callers, they should always seek at least three quotes from genuine contractors - if possible from firms which have been recommended to them by people who have already had work done.

“They should ensure workmen have the necessary professional insurance in place and that they have contact details for the worker or firm so they can be contacted in case of problems.

“In this case, if the damage is considered to be criminal damage the homeowner could seek redress through the criminal court or otherwise he could pursue a claim through the civil courts to seek financial redress for the damage, if he can trace those responsible.”

INFORMATION: Anyone with information should call police on 0345 456 456 4.