ROBERT Coy had to fight back the tears in the dock today at Swindon Crown Court as an immediate prison sentence for fraud and theft was overturned.

Recorder Marcus Tregilas-Davey cleared Coy of the cowboy builder tag he had received after appearing in the Channel 5 series of the same name last year.

In an appeal case brought by Coy to overturn the four months imprisonment he had been sentenced to in late September, the recorder found the 27-year-old had received the correct prison terms, but these should be suspended for 18 months.

Lyn and Jon Jones, of Rowton Heath Way in Toothill, were promised electrical work carried out at their home by Coy was safe and he was qualified, but he lied.

Pat and Ken Hill, of Windrush in Haydon Wick, gave Coy more than £3,000 for furniture as part of their own renovation, but it was never bought and the money never returned.

But the extent of the damage caused by Coy goes far beyond the money stolen. The couple spent more than £140,000 on the renovation of their home, which was never finished.

The damage caused during the project to modify the bungalow for Mr Hill, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, bronchiectasis, and supranuclear palsy, was so severe Channel 5’s Cowboy Builders began a rescue project in November 2013.

Coy pleaded guilty to all four charges to his name and has already paid over more than £12,000 in compensation and court costs, but he was spared jail at the last hearing under appeal.

Defending Coy, Michael Butt said the appellant did not target vulnerable people and seek to gain from cheating them out of their money with rogue trading.

He said Coy had satisfied a number of previous, smaller jobs for the Jones family, which is why they continued to contract him and recommend him to others, such as the Hills.

Mr Butt said Coy had paid out more than £160,000 in carrying out the Hills’ renovation, which, while funded by their own pocket, broke his business C9 Design & Development.

“In retrospect, these were two, big contracts he was trying to perform at much the same time,” said Mr Butt.

“It is quite clear he over-reached himself and he did, I’m afraid, fall into a common trap for small business which leads those businesses to fold and made promises that couldn’t be fulfilled.”

He also reflected upon the impact the Channel 5 programme had on Coy’s family.

“He was living in Swindon when the documentary was broadcast and he had a pretty hard time of it on social media as a result,” he said.

“His children were challenged about it at school by other children. Local people and neighbours called him names.”

Mr Butt also said Coy was now working with his father at a petrol station and ran his own online outdoor clothing business, revenue from which was being used to pay back creditors to his liquidated C9 operation.

In suspending the four-month prison sentence for 18 months and giving Coy 200 hours of unpaid work to carry out, Recorder Tregilas-Davey said: “To classify this appellant as a rogue trader or cowboy builder would be wrong.

“He simply got to a point where could no longer keep up with the demands of the business and his incompetency led him to bury his head in the sand.

“Looking at all the matters and doing the best we can, but particularly given our finding that Mr Coy was not a rogue trader or a cowboy builder, he is repaying the money in significant amounts, he is of good character and his family has already suffered.”