'Dreadful' business owner failed to deliver home lifts and left holes in ceilings
A "dreadful" home lift business owner who left elderly "out of pocket" customers with damaged homes has admitted breaching consumer law.
Belinda Rogers, 53, took payment for lifts her company never delivered and installed products that were faulty.
People were left with holes in ceilings and a lift was fitted with no stop button, Cheshire East Council said.
She was handed a suspended sentence and ordered to pay £51,850 in compensation at Chester Crown Court.
Rogers, of Devonshire Drive, Alderley Edge, ran Britannia Homelifts from offices in Congleton and took deposits of between £7,000 and £13,500 from eight customers for stairlifts and through-the-floor domestic lifts.
The council said a 96-year-old man, who paid £11,000, had a hole cut in his floor and then waited 18 weeks for his lift to be delivered, only to be told the business had gone bust, while an elderly woman, who put down a £8,000 deposit, had to sleep downstairs after she was left with a hole in her ceiling for two months.
Another elderly woman paid £6,365 for a lift, but it was installed without a stopping mechanism, which meant she suffered a number of falls and was also forced to sleep downstairs for five months, which a spokesman said had a "significant" impact on her health.
Mr Justice Ian Dove told Rogers she displayed "dreadful' business incompetence, had caused financial distress to customers, let old people down and demonstrated a litany of failures.
The 53-year-old admitted contravening professional diligence, an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act 2008, and was sentenced to six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.
She was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years and ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.
Speaking after sentencing, Mary Nash, whose father was one of the customers affected, said he was deeply affected by Rogers' actions.
"My father died early this year, aged 87, [and] he never recovered from the distress this had caused him," she said.
"It has been desperately distressing and all the people affected by this have been elderly and vulnerable people."