$175,000 penalty for “greedy” unlicensed builder – media release

A “greedy” unlicensed builder who gambled away money paid by clients and left a trail of substandard or incomplete work in his wake has been fined $175,000 in the Adelaide Magistrates Court for breaches of consumer protection laws.

In court, Peter John Wotton admitted to breaches of the Australian Consumer Law and the Building Work Contractor’s Act.

The court heard Wotton, as sole director of Simplified Installs Pty Ltd trading as Australia Pools and Patios, had entered into contracts with 7 clients for the installation of swimming pools and associated works, ranging in value from $33,000 to $130,000.

In most cases, the work was either substandard or incomplete, with some clients complaining of damage to their property as a result of the works he’d undertaken.

Three clients paid deposits and received nothing in return.

The court was also told that in many cases, Wotton had used a fake builder’s licence number on invoices, and that Wotton also entered into a contract with a client worth around $130,000 after being warned by authorities that his actions were illegal and when he knew his business was in financial trouble

Magistrate Brett Dixon fined Wotton $175,000 and ordered he pay a total of $58,964.40 in compensation to four of Wotton’s clients.

In addition, Wotton was barred from managing companies for the next seven years.

“These were significant breaches that left a number of consumers out of pocket,” Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said.

“Wotton never held an appropriate licence and continued to engage in work, even after he’d been warned his actions were illegal.

“I’m pleased to see the court recognise the seriousness of these offences and impose a significant fine and order compensation”