March 27, 2024

In the evenings, at seven months pregnant, Brooke Crawford would steal herself away from the mouse-infested trailer where she and her family had been living for more than year, crossing her yard to lay vinyl flooring on her hands and knees.

As their first child slept, she helped her husband, Phil, in the piece-by-piece construction of their new home in the rural community of Clarendon Station, about an hour’s drive north of Kingston, Ont. 

They had little other choice.

The nightmare of their first house burning down in July 2019 — Crawford waking to a blaring alarm and fleeing smoke with her baby in her arms — had been bad enough.

But it was when a smooth-talking Nova Scotia contractor named Shane Ross entered their lives soon after, the unimaginable financial and legal horror show began. Instead of rebuilding their home, he walked away with nearly $140,000 of the family’s insurance money, leaving a trail of deception so brazen a judge would later call it “almost unbelievable.”

“He intentionally hurt my family,” Crawford said in an interview. “We’re still trying to get out of the hole with the havoc that he’s caused in our lives, and we just don’t want that for anybody else.”

After their home was destroyed in a fire, the Crawford family lived in this trailer for more than a year. (Submitted by Brooke Crawford)

Over the last five years, Ross has been charged with fraud, his companies have been fired from numerous construction jobs in Nova Scotia and Ontario,…

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