A cruel rogue trader who ‘lied through his teeth’ and fleeced customers out of £642,000 has been jailed.

Lawrence Martin, 36, remained expressionless as he was handed a five year prison sentence.

Martin sold several customers false promises as he carried out building works and house repairs which he never completed.

READ MORE: Cowboy builder duped thousands from Hampshire customers

Botched jobs and empty bank accounts was all that was left in his wake for countless consumers.

Despite being put behind bars, one of his many victims Judith Kipling fears he will ‘find a way to do it again’.

Martin pleaded guilty to fraud offences in October last year but repeatedly failed to appear for his sentencing at Southampton Crown Court.

Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Peter Henry said he took advantage of customers’ vulnerabilities.

He said: “The impact of what you did to people was significant.

“I have no doubt serious detrimental harm was caused by your conduct.

“You defrauded over 50 victims, and you used bullying behaviour towards your customers.

“People like you not only give the building industry a bad name but cause devastating injury.”

The court heard of 29 instances where Lawrence defrauded trusting victims over a period spanning more than three years.

This amounted to a hefty £642,850.320 which was spent on materials, other incomplete jobs, and kept for Martin.

He preyed on numerous vulnerable clients, including a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man.

Prosecuting, Ethu Crorie told the court of the time Martin targeted a couple in Capon Close in Southampton.

The crook swindled £34,124.61 from the elderly and disabled pair.

Speaking about Martin’s behaviour, Mr Crorie said: “He was simply lying about what the money was going to be used for.

“When customers complained, he made numerous excuses like there being problems with suppliers, and the imminent death of his mother.

“He took advantage of consumers’ vulnerability.

“This defendant should not be doing any work of this kind at all. He is clearly absolutely incompetent.”

Addressing the court, Judge Henry added: “He may be incompetent at building, but he is not incompetent at defrauding people.”

But mitigating, Jennifer Brenton said Martin has shown remorse for his cations.

She said: “His good character has now been lost and shortly his liberty will be lost as a result of what has happened.

“He would like to take this opportunity to express an apology to every victim.”

But this apology fell on deaf ears for the victims present in court who are disappointed with the sentence.

Sharon Netley, from Chichester, forked out £92,668.55 to Martin and later had to pay £22,000 to fix his dodgy work.

She said: “This sentence will not be enough for what he has done.

“Because of this we were in debt and taking out loans from the bank. We couldn’t sleep at night.

“We stopped him in the end.”