Landscaper says he won’t repay £3500 despite court order

Christine Neary with her partner Tony and his sons Keiran and Josh.
Christine Neary with her partner Tony and his sons Keiran and Josh.

A family has won a court case against a landscaper who took thousands of pounds in payment but didn’t complete the the job.

Christine Neary first asked Blair Matthews, as part of Complete Garden Design, to undertake a landscaping job outside her Glenrothes home in April this year, but after he took £3500 and failed to finish the job.

I’ve never missed a court appearance in my life

Blair Matthews

Christine took him to the Small Claims Court and won after he failed to respond to the case.

But Blair says he has no plans to repay the money and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, Blair claimed he doesn’t have the money to repay Christine, so she hasn’t seen a penny.

“It was supposed to be £3500 for materials and £1500 for labour,” said Christine. “He took £3500 from us for materials. For that, we got two tonne bags of sand, 160 blocks and a pallet of cement. We had a skip delivered, then he filled it with tarmac from another job he was doing and we even had to pay to recover it.

“He did 12 and a half hours’ work in the place and he destroyed it and then he didn’t do anything else.”

The couple was awarded £3590 plus £206.92 in court expenses.

Christine and her partner Tony have now had to undertake the whole landscaping operation themselves, which has taken months of work.

“We’ve basically lost every single penny,” she said.

“I don’t want what happened to us to happen to other people. We’re young, we’ve broken our backs doing it ourselves. It’s been hard, but we’ll get over it. The old and the vulnerable people, they are not as fortunate as us. There’s nothing stopping this guy from repeatedly doing this to other people.”

However, despite the court ruling, Blair says that he doesn’t feel that he has to pay the money back, and says he has fallen on hard times and now faces eviction.

He says he suffers from PTSD, after a former work colleague hit him with a van after a dispute in 2015.

“I just couldn’t bring myself to go, with my housing situation at the moment,” he said of the failure to respond to the case. “I just can’t seem to deal with it. I’ve never missed a court appearance in my life. I’ve nowhere to stay, nothing to eat.”

He says he took the £3500 for materials and that the dispute came from a disagreement on when full payment was due.

“I did try and resolve it,” he said.

“It doesn’t give me any satisfaction to know that they’ve paid money and their garden’s just been left.”

When asked if he would ever repay the couple, Blair said: “Not really, because I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.

“I’m certainly not the type to go ripping people off. I’d be more than happy to go help them get the job complete.

“I would apologise for my actions if they would apologise for theirs.”

Blair said that he has had a number of satisfied customers in the past.

“If I could get wages for a couple of guys, I’d go up and do their garden for nothing. If I wasn’t going to be out of pocket, I don’t do anything everyday anyway just now, so I would gladly go up and do their garden for free.”

Despite this, Christine says she has yet to hear from Blair.