‘Cowboy’ builder’s court costs are cut

Kingswood Construction sponsored Swindon’s Town’s shirt in 2007. Mark Groves is pictured, left, with Kingswood’s Brendan Mitchell (second right), showing off the new shirt with Paul Sturrock and Martyn Starnes (right) at the County Ground

Kingswood Construction sponsored Swindon’s Town’s shirt in 2007. Mark Groves is pictured, left, with Kingswood’s Brendan Mitchell (second right), showing off the new shirt with Paul Sturrock and Martyn Starnes (right) at the County Ground

First published in News

A NOTORIOUS businessman spared jail for operating while bankrupt has had a court costs order slashed because trade is down after he again appeared on TV’s Cowboy Builders.

Mark Groves, whose South Marston-based Kingswood Group was emblazoned across Swindon Town’s shirts in 2007, was told to cough up £20,000 by a judge last year. But after he was featured on the Channel Five show for a third time last November he said business had dried up, making it impossible to find the cash.

And his legal representative told a judge other customers had also decided not to pay their bills after the show, featuring Melinda Messenger and Dom Littlewood, was aired.

He said because Groves’ household income was just £46,800 it was impossible for him to meet his financial obligations after being put on a community order.

Marcus Bright, whose client lives in a £700,000 house, said: “Mr Groves would like to be earning more. There has been a rather unfortunate history.

“Mr Groves has been pursued by the programme Cowboy Buil-ders. As a consequence, this case was mentioned by Cowboy Builders. Since then he had had cancellation of contracts. He has also had people saying, ‘We’ve seen you on Cowboy Builders and we are not going to pay you’.”

Mr Bright told the court his client draws just £300 a week from the business and his partner £600, meaning the household income is just £900 a week. He said he was currently paying £100 a week towards the court costs, which is all he can afford, and had paid £3,000 since he was sentenced last June.

Judge Tim Mousley QC agreed to reduce the amount he has to pay from £20,000 to £10,000, but said it must be settled by June this year.

Mr Bright said: “That is much appreciated by Mr Groves,” after hearing him make the order.

Groves, now of Camberley, Surrey, admitted taking part in the management of Kingswood PRC Ltd between May 14 and December 19, 2008 while bankrupt. He also pleaded guilty to taking part in the formation and management of Lifestyle Design and Build Ltd between July 15, 2008, and May 15, 2009.

As an undischarged bankrupt he was banned from being a director or acting in management of a company.

But he continued to run the firms, installing ‘puppet directors’ including one bricklayer who found himself liable for the debts when the firm went down And he even set up a new company called Lifestyle Design and Build despite being expressly banned from doing so.

Nigel Fryer, for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, described the offending as “a systemic attempt by Mr Groves to maintain his business, transferring work from Kingswood to Kingswood PRC and ultimately Lifestyle Design and Build in the knowledge he should not engage in management of the company.

“In doing so he involved naive people into becoming directors so he could control them to do his own bidding,” he said.

But Nicholas Syfret QC, defending, said he was trying to save the firms and was not out to ‘defraud’.

Recorder Oba Ngugbe QC imposed a one year community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and did not bar Groves from being a director in the future.

He told him: “On any view, as your counsel has observed, you were the main man in what I have assessed to be the flagrant disregard of the regulations.”

He also told him to pay £20,000 in costs of the prosecution saying he felt the £31,982.30p requested was “on the high side”.

Kingswood PLC sponsored Town for the 2007/2008 seasons, and Groves was involved in photo shoots with manager Paul Sturrock, but the club said they never received the money.

Comments (11)

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5:07am Fri 14 Mar 14

King Doink says...

Only 900 pounds per week joint income!! He should claim benefits as well.
Only 900 pounds per week joint income!! He should claim benefits as well. King Doink
  • Score: 16

7:33am Fri 14 Mar 14

Mushymushy says...

£900 per week £700 k house. I don't think he will be getting much sympathy and should go to jail directly to jail and not pass go.he should then be made to down size to pay his debts. But no the courts have basically let him off.
I bet he's one happy rather well off man.
£900 per week £700 k house. I don't think he will be getting much sympathy and should go to jail directly to jail and not pass go.he should then be made to down size to pay his debts. But no the courts have basically let him off. I bet he's one happy rather well off man. Mushymushy
  • Score: 20

8:28am Fri 14 Mar 14

house on the hill says...

Pathetic justice system we have in this country. If he is guilty he should pay end of. But this twunt needs locking up, he clearly has no respect for anyone but himself and he should be treated accordingly.
Pathetic justice system we have in this country. If he is guilty he should pay end of. But this twunt needs locking up, he clearly has no respect for anyone but himself and he should be treated accordingly. house on the hill
  • Score: 16

10:00am Fri 14 Mar 14

PaulD says...

Man let off punishment for being a crook due being exposed as a crook
Man let off punishment for being a crook due being exposed as a crook PaulD
  • Score: 15

10:07am Fri 14 Mar 14

Oik1 says...

Groves is a criminal, what has happened in court is even more so.
There's no doubt he'll still be laughing all the way to the bank.
What happened to justice being seen to be done?
Groves is a criminal, what has happened in court is even more so. There's no doubt he'll still be laughing all the way to the bank. What happened to justice being seen to be done? Oik1
  • Score: 16

10:15am Fri 14 Mar 14

Amberflame says...

£900 a week! And he's claiming hard times?

Should have been made to sell the house!!
£900 a week! And he's claiming hard times? Should have been made to sell the house!! Amberflame
  • Score: 17

11:07am Fri 14 Mar 14

mrwoo says...

doesn't need to sell the house, just draw more from the company.
doesn't need to sell the house, just draw more from the company. mrwoo
  • Score: 4

11:43am Fri 14 Mar 14

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Surely he should be forced to release equity in his house and if that means he has to "downsize" then he should.

Another example of a failing criminal justice system.
Surely he should be forced to release equity in his house and if that means he has to "downsize" then he should. Another example of a failing criminal justice system. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 6

12:04pm Fri 14 Mar 14

FLOGGITLAD says...

if you do the crime then you do the time, how can he get a reduced fine for being a crook, if he is loosing money thats down to him. have these judges lost the plot or waht..
if you do the crime then you do the time, how can he get a reduced fine for being a crook, if he is loosing money thats down to him. have these judges lost the plot or waht.. FLOGGITLAD
  • Score: 6

12:48pm Fri 14 Mar 14

EVERETTP9 says...

Judges pulling tricks like this , should be made to pay the balance out of their own very full pockets and not us poor tax payers being told to lump it.
Judges pulling tricks like this , should be made to pay the balance out of their own very full pockets and not us poor tax payers being told to lump it. EVERETTP9
  • Score: 5

9:11pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Loveall says...

He will be in court next week asking for it to be reduced as he's lost business
being in the Adver!!
He will be in court next week asking for it to be reduced as he's lost business being in the Adver!! Loveall
  • Score: 1

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