Pensioner defrauded out of £64,000 by cowboy builders

Court news. NNL-160706-163936001

Court news. NNL-160706-163936001

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An elderly Kenilworth pensioner was defrauded out of £64,000 by two property maintenance workers, which could have been even more if not for vigilant bank staff.

When the 82-year-old victim tried to cash in a bond to withdraw £32,000, staff questioned her about it before alerting Warwickshire Trading Standards.

Warwick Crown Court heard Hugh Fury, 33, of Gospel Oak Lane, Stratford, and Clayton Foster, 33, of Birmingham Road, Stratford were charging the pensioner that staggering sum just to replace the guttering and fascias of her bungalow.

They were both jailed for two years after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the old lady and a further offence of fraud.

But the court heard the pensioner will get all her money back – because a restraining order has been taken out on a bank account in which the two men have about £89,000.

Lee Reynolds, prosecuting on behalf of the Trading Standards department, said the victim, who was 78 when she first employed the two men in 2010, was subjected to a course of conduct lasting almost four years.

He said: “They repeatedly attended at her home and charged her grossly excessive sums for building work which was unnecessary, and for work which simply was not done.

“They attempted to secure £94,750 from her for work which was worth less than £14,000. In fact they actually received £62,750 because a large sum was not paid, thanks to her bank.”

He said the lady, who is now 83 and lives alone, had trusted the two men, who she described as being ‘like sons.’

When Fury and Foster called on her in 2010 claiming her roof tiles needed washing, she agreed for them to do so.

But they then returned, claiming they had noticed her roofing felt must have been left in the sun for too long before it was used – and that as a result it was ‘rotting’ and needed replacing, with the whole roof also being re-tiled.

She was charged £20,000 for the work, which a surveyor later said should have cost no more than £8,000. he next job they claimed needed doing in May 2010 was the flat roof of her garage, for which £2,500 would have been a reasonable price – but they charged her £16,500.

Three more overcharged jobs followed before the pair tried to charge her £32,000 to replace her leaking guttering.

She thought the £32,000 quote was high, and they agreed to cut the price – only for her to be charged the full amount after the work, for which an expert later said £2,750 would have been a reasonable figure, had been carried out by three other men.

Mr Reynolds added that Fury had a fraud conviction in 2009, but Foster was of previous good character.

Ian Suggett, defending, said it was impossible to say whether all the work was necessary or not, but the guttering did need replacing and the re-roofing had been signed off as meeting building standards.

He added: “The defendants are acutely aware of the age of the main person they offended against.

“They did work for her that she was happy with. It was not fraudulent from the outset.”

But Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC said: “In my judgement this was a dishonest and cynical course of conduct directed against a vulnerable old lady. The purpose was simply to enrich yourselves – and you did.”