A COUPLE say a cowboy builder has ruined their lives after “mutilating” their family home with his shoddy work before abandoning them.

Hayley Price, 42, and David Rego, 43, have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after they hired Caerphilly rogue trader Leighton Walkley.

Now surrounded by his third-rate workmanship they face spending thousands more to sort out the mess he has left them in.

Walkley, trading as L & B Brickwork, had been contracted for an extension on their Caerphilly house as well as building a summerhouse and patio.

MORE NEWS: Drug dealer caught with Rolex watch and Canada Goose jacket

Partly paying him up front to complete their dream project, his work turned out to be “shabby” before he deserted them to take on another job.

South Wales Argus: Leighton Walkley. Picture: Twitter

Hayley and David have to live with a summerhouse “subject to collapse”, unsafe steps leading to an uneven patio, drainage problems and rubble in their garden.

The garden is in such a hazardous state that it’s off-limits for their two young children Beatrix, six, and Freddie, two, who can't play there.

Walkley was prosecuted by Caerphilly trading standards and was handed a suspended prison sentence last month at Cardiff Crown Court after he admitted unfair trading.

The couple have been given hope the 46-year-old, of Bryn Awel, Penyrheol, could be forced into paying them compensation after the prosecution applied for a proceeds of crime hearing.

South Wales Argus: Walkley's work was criticised by a judge who condemned it as “shoddy and slapdash”. Picture: Hayley Price and David Rego

Hayley, a welfare rights advisor for cancer patients, and David, a procurement supply analyst in the steel industry, spoke about their experience.

“It’s not an exaggeration that this has ruined our lives,” the devastated couple said.

“We said in court that’s it’s a living nightmare and that’s true.

“Leighton had been recommended to us and we thought he was trustworthy – when we met him he was pleasant.

“Something changed during the job and he abandoned us.

South Wales Argus: What a mess he's left. Picture: Caerphilly trading standards

“It was a fiasco.

“He took our money, took on another job and disappeared.

“The work had been sporadic and when we contacted him to ask him when he was coming back he would make it sound as if he was doing us a favour.

“We felt like he had us over a barrel.”

“We feel so angry and frustrated that we live in a house that we now despise which has been damaged and mutilated by him.”

South Wales Argus: Sorting out the problems will cost the couple thousands. Picture: Caerphilly trading standards

Hayley and David had to remortgage their house to pay Walkley and aren’t able to find the cash to right his wrongs.

“It’s also difficult to find someone who will take on somebody’s else’s bad job,” they revealed.

“It’s a vicious circle.”

They wanted to tell their story because they are calling for a change in consumer protection and building regulation laws.

“Ours isn’t an isolated case, this is rife and the system allows it to happen. The system is broken,” they said.

“We think there should be some sort of insurance policy to protect consumers and there should be regulation of builders.

“We were also lucky that our trading standards team were so good and took our case on but I think trading standards are mostly woefully underfunded in this country.”

The couple added: “Our advice to other people is don’t be forced into paying up front.

“Make sure you don’t get pushed into it.

“We’d like there to be support for people who don’t know where to turn.

“A lot of people who fall victim will be more vulnerable than us.”

They support the Regulate/License The Domestic Building Industry – Campaign Group on Facebook where people open up about similar experiences and call for changes in the law.