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Builders Revenge Could You Do This?

Builders Revenge Could You Do This?

Builder Paul Lawton spent five years building his dream home – but only five hours demolishing it with a JCB to prevent a former lover winning a bitter money wrangle.

Mr Lawton said flattening the imposing six-bedroom house on a remote Scots isle was preferable to seeing his former partner Valerie Keith profit from his hard work.

Three-times married Mr Lawton, 66, from Eday, Orkney, took the bizarre revenge after Miss Keith launched legal action to repossess the property and evict him over his failure to repay a six-figure loan after their relationship broke down.

The great-grandfather decided to demolish the three-storey home, which has beautiful views over Eday Sound, after his ex refused to allow him time to sell the property for more money in a public auction.

When Miss Keith called in lawyers to recover her six-figure investment, a crushed Mr Lawton decided to flatten the house with the digger rather than hand it over.

Mr Lawton, originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, moved to Eday with his then wife, Jackie, in 2001 after falling in love with the island on a holiday.

They bought land and a one-bedroom cottage called Castles, complete with private beach.

They built another house with six bedrooms – intending to turn it into a family home plus B&B, but their  marriage fell apart before it was finished and Mr Lawton faced losing the property in a divorce settlement.

In 2010, he met divorcee Miss Keith on online dating site and she agreed to loan him her life savings so he could pay off his wife and keep the property.

He said he borrowed £202,000 from Miss Keith, secured against the  cottage, the house and a small plot of land – together valued at a conservative £310,000.

The subsequent sale of a hangar-style shed netted £50,000 which he paid to Miss Keith, cutting his debt, including interest, to £170,000.

However, things started to go wrong with their relationship during a holiday to Spain a year ago.

‘We talked about our financial agreement and she said she would give me two months to sell the properties and if I couldn’t manage it, they would go to public auction with a reserve of £170,000 for all three properties, enough to cover the remainder of her loan.

‘But three days later, I got an email from her solicitor in Aberdeen saying they were starting repossession proceedings.­’

Mr Lawton added: ‘I was upset about the way things went. It was not done out of rage; possibly hurt pride. That night, I knew I was going to lose the property.

 ‘It seemed very unfair. I decided that flattening the house was one way to do something about it.’

It took the former building contractor only five hours to reduce the property to rubble last August.

He went on: ‘I demolished the house at night, starting at midnight and finishing at five o’clock in the morning. There was no going back from that. I’ve lost everything. I’m facing bankruptcy shortly. 

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