Builders jailed for ripping off Cumbrian pensioners

They were each jailed for a year, made subject to a ten year ASBO and ordered to pay compensation to their victims of £3,550.

The offences came to light when the gang leafleted the estate in January 2009 offering to wash and seal residents’ roofs. They used high pressure tactics and intimidated the pensioners to agree to the work and when demanding payment.

Despite charging from £500 to £1100 to wash and reseal each roof, an independent surveyor later examined the roofs of the four bungalows and declared the work to be of no value and indicated that each required £200 to rectify the work.

Daniel Hoey’s behaviour was so aggressive towards one 77-year-old widow that she felt intimidated and nervous, and after handing over the cash, the lady sat on her sofa and cried.

Another pensioner was so disturbed by Thomas Hanley’s behaviour that she lay on the bedroom floor of her bungalow in the hope that the workmen would not know that she was in.

In sentencing the three, Judge Paul Batty QC described their behaviour as "despicable."

He said: "The Courts have a duty to impose sentences to protect the elderly and vulnerable to act as both a punishment and deterrent."

Phil Ashcroft, Head of Cumbria Trading Standards, said:

"Yet again we have hardened criminals targeting elderly and vulnerable people to rob them of their money and I’m particularly pleased with the robust sentences imposed.

"But I would repeat my warning to all householders that they should never employ cold callers to do any work for them.

"I also applaud the courage of the victims, one of whom was 80, in coming forward. We intend to consult with Hawcoat residents to see if they would welcome the area being designated a No Cold Calling Zone. Experience shows that the incidents of cold calling are greatly reduced in these zones."

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