Owner of McFadden’s Timber – also known as McFadden’s Door Centre – Vincent McFadden (62) traded for more than 26 years, selling doors, floors, skirting boards and cut timber, building up an “exemplary” reputation and loyal customer base.
But when trade dwindled, he began demanding money up-front in cash, for goods he never ordered from the manufacturers.
Targeting “mainly elderly, vulnerable customers”, McFadden defrauded 20 clients of over £19,000 to pay the mortgage on his £600,000 home and to satisfy his wife’s penchant for “fancy” cars.
One 83-year-old former pensions consultant, since diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, was even driven to the bank by McFadden’s staff to get money when he tried to place a £2280 order for 13 doors and McFadden refused to let him pay by card.
When customers complained their doors hadn’t arrived, he responded with “multiple excuses”, a jury at Stirling Sheriff Court was this week and last.
As customers became desperate, people seeking refunds formed queues outside McFadden Timber, in Dalderse Avenue, Falkirk.
One customer, owed £400 for missing doors, threatened to turn up with a placard.
McFadden lied to other customers that he’d got cancer, had a heart attack, one of his joiners had suffered a bereavement, a joiner’s wife had left him, a joiner was drunk, and a joiner had accidentally driven to Wick instead of Stirlingshire with a cargo of doors, all in order to buy time, and issued refund cheques he expected would bounce.
A local GP, Dr Paul Lim (58) claimed he was spat on, kneed in the groin, called a racist names and repeatedly punched and kicked by McFadden when he called to try to recover £250 for a door he had ordered.
Jurors found charges of assaulting and racially abusing Dr Lim not proven.
McFadden was finally brought to book after a customer, Susan Duffy, called to demand a £320 refund for undelivered doors and skirtings.
He told her: “I’m sorry I don’t have it but as soon as somebody else comes in and places an order I’ll get your money back.”
Mrs Duffy (63) said: “I realised then what a cheat he was. I knew he was taking from people and not giving them their orders, and continuing to do it.”
She went to the police.
McFadden told officers: “I was robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
But in court, the father-of-two, of Centurion Way, Camelon, continued to deny wrongdoing.
Alternately weeping and becoming angry during nearly two hours in the witness box, he blamed “bad management”, said he was “a Christian”, and would never cheat anybody.
He said: “I’m a Roman Catholic, I go to chapel every Sunday, I don’t tell lies, it’s a sin.”
After an eight day trial, the 10 woman, five man jury took less than 75 minutes to find him guilty of fraud, committed over a 15 month period between February 2014 and May 2016.
He finally ceased trading in September 2016.
Prosecutor Kyrsten Buist branded McFadden “a pathological liar” who had “committed fraud all day long, to fund an expensive, lavish lifestyle”.
Ms Buist said: “To pay for fancy cars, Audis his wife was driving about in, and the £3146 mortgage on his £600,000 house, he took money from predominantly elderly people – vulnerable people he knew he would not get much jip off.
“The majority received no money back.”
Sheriff William Gilchrist deferred sentence until June 27 for reports, and released McFadden on bail.