Law catches up with shed rip-off merchant
A FORMER Ipswich shed business operator that has ripped off dozens of customers has finally had his day in court.
Paul Jason William DeBruin, who along with his brother in law Johnathan Melein operated DMV Ipswich and LBM Projects, came to the attention of the Queensland times early last year after a string of upset Patios and Shed Ipswich customers complained that they hadn't reveived the product they'd paid for.
Ripped off customers included young families, elderly couples and even a local secondary school.
Victims also included tradesmen who hadn't been paid for work.
Inquiries by the QT, combined with customer complaints, ultimately led to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission conducting its own investigations into DeBruin's business activities.
A prosecution brought by the QBCC saw some long awaited results this week, with a court ordering DeBruin, Melein, DMV Ipswich and LBM Projects to pay $201,500 in fines and more than $50,000 in compensation.
The fines and compensation related to unlicensed building activity that affected six home owners across Ipswich, Beenleigh and Brisbane between June 2014 and February 2015.
The prosecutions against DeBruin, Melein and their businesses were brought before Brisbane, Ipswich and Beenleight Magistrates Court, which heard the offenders contracted to supply and build sheds, carports and garages.
While they accepted the payment, they did not carry out the work.
Ipswich victims that spoke to the QT yesterday were not part of the prosecution, but said they were relieved to hear that DeBruin had been at least partially held to account for his actions.
Bundamba shed company victim Val Vogel said she didn't believe the fine and compensation came close to reflecting the full amount of money that had been fleeced from customers.
"It should have been at least twice that much," she said, "but it is good that something has finally happened to that man."
"I would like to get my money back but I don't think it will ever happen."
Barellan Point resident Scott Darrell, who was ripped off by about $22,000 last year, said the court ruling was "better than nothing".
"Considering how much he has done it's not enough," Mr Darrell said.
The QBCC was unable to provide the names of the shed rip-off victims involved in its prosecution.
Mr DeBruin, who was responsible for setting up both companies, was charged with 50 offences as an individual, whilst Mr Melein was charged with 38 offences.
The QBCC said failure to pay fines and restitution could result in imprisonment.
QBCC Acting Commissioner, Kellie Lowe, said that the case emphasised the need to ensure building work was only carried out by licensed individuals and, in all cases, for home owners to only make payments according to the terms of their contract.
Ms Lowe said home owners could call the QBCC 24/7 on 139 333 or visit www.qbcc.qld.gov.au to check the licence credentials of anyone they are considering contracting to perform building work.