Police yesterday apprehended a rogue tradesman who is alleged to have defrauded a number of people from a small community.
Police last night named the man as Aleksander Borowski. He is believed to be from Poland, and in this country on an expired work visa.
Borowski is accused of fraudulently taking money from the residents of Bobsville. Police have charged him with offences relating to fraud, but indicated that more charges were likely.
And the investigation may yet claim the career of the mayor of Bobsville.
Borowski’s shoddy work practices were the subject of a Fair Go report last year. And last month the roof of a barn he built for a local farmer, James Pickles, collapsed, seriously injuring the farmer. Occupational Health and Safety have not yet released their report into that incident.
The fraud charges relate to Mr Borowski’s construction business. Borowski, known only as “Bob” to the locals of Bobsville, is accused of taking money for construction work he never intended to undertake.
When the police tried to arrest Borowski last week he fled into the bush. He was found yesterday hiding in a garden shed in Sunflower Valley.
The community of Bobsville has been rocked by the affair.
“We were all taken in”, said Mr Dixon, the local postman. “Bob was a popular guy, and he was always helping out in the community. He even helped build the local school.”
But the school’s headmaster Mrs Percival was less impressed. “Bob? He was a cowboy”. She said the plasterwork on one wall of the school hall had cracked in several places. “That’s his work. We’ve had a quote and it will cost over $30,000 to fix it.”
Local property developer Barry Beasley was especially affected by Borowski’s shoddy work. “I used Bob on a lot of projects”, he said. “Seven houses and a couple of commercial buildings. A couple of years later and they’re literally falling to pieces.”
Mr Beasley’s lawyer, leaky-homes specialist Darryl Scrimshank, said the Bobsville Council had to take responsibility for Borowski’s work. “In the end it was they who signed off on his work,” said Mr Scrimshank. He would not say how much Beasley is seeking from the Council, but said it was in the “hundreds of thousands”.
And the affair may yet claim the career of local mayor Bernard Bentley. Police are investigating alleged irregularities at the Bobsville Council regarding several planning and building consents for Mr Borowski’s work.
Mr Bentley was last night refusing to speak to the media.
Other residents who met Mr Borowski are struggling to cope with the scale of the alleged deception.
“He told me he was from England,” said local museum manager, Mr Ellis. “And he had the accent.”
Police believe the English accent is the result of hundreds of hours of practice in front of the television. “He wanted to fit in,” Detective Inspector Keith Chapman told us, “so he reinvented himself as this lovable English guy.
“But when we raided [Borowski’s] house, we found boxes of DVDs from TV shows, like Men Behaving Badly.”
Not everyone was taken in by the lovable Englishman.
“He was a queer one, that Bob,” said local man Jack Fothergill. “He’d talk all the time to all the machines and diggers he used to do his work. He’d give them all names, like Dizzy, Travis and Lofty. I thought he was mad.”
Police are still seeking the whereabouts of Borowski’s alleged accomplice, known only as “Wendy”.
Borowski is due to appear in court this morning.