Conmen builders jailed for taking £23,000 from vulnerable spinster (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Conmen builders jailed for taking £23,000 from vulnerable spinster
Two fraudsters, who conned a vulnerable 84-year-old woman out of her savings, have been locked up.
Steven Robinson and Danny Coulton persuaded spinster Marjorie Greenwood to part with £23,000, claiming her roof needed replacing and her chimney pointing – even though the house had no chimney.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that what work was done was not up to standard, and none of it was required.
Jailing the pair for 18 months each, Judge John Potter said both were fully involved in a fraud “designed to obtain more than £20,000 by the exploitation of a vulnerable victim”.
He said they were inspired by “little more than greed and selfishness”.
Prosecutor Kirsten Mercer said Miss Greenwood lived alone at a detached house in Bolton, Bradford, which had been adapted to help her mobility after a hip replacement.
Miss Mercer said Robinson was a sole trader carrying out small-scale building work across Yorkshire and Lancashire, and Coulton worked for him.
The pair had carried out a number of jobs in the area before knocking on Miss Greenwood’s door and telling her that repair work was needed on her roof.
They produced an invoice for £575 for work, which included pointing to the non-existent chimney.
Miss Greenwood paid them £275 in cash and a cheque for £300 payable to Robinson.
One of the men went on the roof and returned with a tile he said was broken and the conmen told her she needed a new roof.
The spinster was given an estimate for £5,000 and over the next couple of days the men came and went, giving her the impression they were carrying out the work they said needed doing.
The defendants returned to the house later and presented Miss Greenwood with an itemised invoice for £22,831, including a forged VAT number. She presented them with two cheques, one in Robinson’s name for £12,831 and one to Coulton for £9,800, and also gave them £100 each in cash.
An independent survey was made of the house and found that all of the work was not required and was not fit for purpose, Miss Mercer said.
Robinson was able to bank the two cheques but Miss Greenwood stopped the cheque to Coulton and alerted police after a neighbour became suspicious.
The court was told the fraudsters returned to Miss Greenwood’s house, waving the stopped cheque, but she told them the police had been informed and they went away.
In a victim impact statement, Miss Greenwood said she was angry they had taken her for a “doddery old woman” and it was dreadful they had taken advantage of her.
Arshad Mahmood, for Robinson, said his client had gambling debts, he saw an opportunity and greed got the better of him.
Anna Wilkinson, for Coulton, told the court it was an opportunist offence.