Builder spared jail after stealing £9k from cancer patient

Alexander Dunn has dodged jail. Picture: Getty
Alexander Dunn has dodged jail. Picture: Getty
Have your say

A COWBOY builder who stole thousands of pounds from a cancer-stricken woman has dodged jail.

Alexander Dunn, 52, from Uphall, took £9000 from Karen Macdonald to carry out work on new bathrooms, heating, patio doors and a kitchen at her home – but failed to carry out any of the promised upgrades, leaving her back garden a wreck of rubble, bricks and concrete.

He initially tried to get away with his crime by denying he owed the struggling mum, who was receiving gruelling chemotherapy sessions at the time to combat breast cancer.

Ms Macdonald had told Dunn she had a budget of £25,000 to transform her home – including building a bedroom extension for her daughter, Iona, who was six at the time.

He agreed to manage the project and made one visit to her property in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, along with his brother and an architect, after which £9000 was transferred into his bank account to allow foundations to be laid and materials bought.

Dunn also began the process of applying for planning permission but nothing further was done.

Furious at the delay, Ms Macdonald went to the house of Dunn’s brother to ask about the building materials but was left stunned when he told her he had no further involvement in the project.

The brother spoke to Dunn who initially denied owing money, but later agreed to pay back the cash at a rate of £250 per week. However, only one payment was ever made. Ms Macdonald was receiving chemotherapy by this point, but managed to call in police in January 2012 after she went into recovery.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court yesterday, Dunn, of Byrehope Road, admitted a charge of stealing the cash on October 5, 2011. He had originally faced a charge of defrauding Ms Macdonald of £15,150, but pleaded guilty to an amended charge of theft. Sheriff Thomas Millar ordered Dunn to perform 200 hours of unpaid work.

Shortly after the crime three years ago, Ms Macdonald said: “He took advantage of me while I was ill. I thought he was helping me and I fell for it.

“I fought hard to beat breast cancer only for the battle to be taken from underneath me by this so-called tradesman.

“I keep reminding myself my health is far more important. However, it is mentally draining when you are faced with reminders of what has gone badly wrong outside every window of your home.”

Dunn was unavailable for comment.