Victims of an ‘exploitative crook’ who scammed people out of thousands of pounds are infuriated after he failed to show up for his sentencing.

Lawrence Martin was due to be sentenced at Southampton Crown Court on Monday.

The 36-year-old left customers of his Chichester-based business CLJ Roofing Ltd with wrecked homes and empty bank accounts.

After pleading guilty to fraud offences in October, Martin was instructed to return to court – but failed to do so.

Daily Echo: Lawrence Martin leaving Southampton Crown CourtLawrence Martin leaving Southampton Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

One of his victims, who wished to remain anonymous, said the shoddy improvement work left him £14,000 out of pocket.

Speaking on Martin not appearing in court, he said: “It’s all lies and it’s horrific.

“We are disgusted by it. It’s excuse after excuse.

“He is destroying lives - he stripped my house bare.

“I employed Lawrence at the beginning of 2020 and he wanted the money upfront.

“As we dripped money in, he stripped the house back.”

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An 85-year-old woman lost nearly £6,000 after employing Martin to carry out guttering works.

Her son, who wished to remain unnamed, attended Southampton Crown Court.

He said: “This man is a crook, and I would love to know where all the money has gone.

“He exploited an 85-year-old and we want to see him in jail.”

Prosecuting, Ethu Crorie said it seems Martin "wants to be sentenced only when he wants to be sentenced".

"This has shown Mr Martin’s attitude towards this court proceeding," he added.

But mitigating, Jennifer Brenton said his failure to appear comes after his wife was admitted to hospital on Friday, December 15.

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She said: “He is looking after their children and his wife and said there is no earthly way he is able to leave her.

“I regret that although he is not here today, it is simply impossible for him to come because of the situation with his wife and children.”

Martin, of Chorley Road in Manchester, previously pleaded guilty to one count of carry on a business or company with intent to defraud creditors, and one count of participate in fraudulent business and trading.

His company, CLJ Roofing Ltd, pleaded guilty to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.

Judge Peter Henry said: “Despite how disappointing it is for those who attended today, I cannot pass sentence.

“It is vanishingly unlikely the next sentencing will be adjourned again.

“His wife sadly needs to face up to the fact she will be without her husband for a while.”

Martin will next appear before court on January 8.