A FATHER and son who conned customers out of thousands of pounds have walked free from court.
Preston Crown Court heard how an investigation was launched into Space 4 Living Conservatories when directors Barry Palin, 52, and Adam Palin, 23, agreed to build a £60,000 extension for a woman in the summer of 2010.
The pair accepted an immediate payment for the building work and continued to reassure the victim the work would be completed, even though they knew their business was failing.
The two men continued to speak to her while the firm was in the process of being wound up and accepted three payments of £9,000.
David Traynor, prosecuting, told the court that at the time the company ceased trading in the summer of 2010, a number of customers had paid for work which had not been completed.
By then, the company was in “grave financial difficulties” and it was almost inevitable it would go into administration, he added.
However, this information was withheld from customers and £9,000 owed to the woman has never been located.
She tried to contact the firm by visiting their showroom on Brinwell Industrial Estate, Marton, but the business had moved out.
When Barry Palin was spoken to by Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards team, he even sought to blame an article in The Gazette, claiming it had upset customers and made the business unsustainable.
The court heard the claim was incorrect as the Gazette’s report appeared after the company had been wound up. Kevin Preston, defending Barry Palin, said: “He viewed the company almost as his baby.
“Everyone put in their personal money to try and keep the company a viable concern. He effectively had his blinkers on, desperately trying to keep things going, but it failed.”
Philip Holden, defending Adam Palin, added: “To all intents and purposes, from the outset it had been a legitimate bona fide company, trading properly and had satisfied customers.
“This is not a case of work not being undertaken and monies received.
“The defendants were trying their best to do and perform the work.
“They weren’t taking money to use to their own ends, to pursue a lavish lifestyle, quite the reverse.”
Barry Palin, of Elizabeth Court, Lytham, pleaded guilty to fraud in anticipation of winding up while his son, of St Annes Road West, St Annes, admitted possessing criminal property of £9,000.
Both men were sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work in the community.
In addition, Judge Stuart Baker ordered that both men be disqualified from being a company director for five years.