'˜A mean crime that inflicted misery on vulnerable people': Aylesbury Crown Court judge jails scammers for fraudulent house repairs in Bucks
Tommy Fury, of Old London Road, Chipping Norton, and John O’Reilly, of Stanbridge Road, Great Billington, admitted fraud and failing in professional diligence at a previous hearing but returned to the dock on Friday July 7 when Mr Recorder J Boothby jailed them both for nine months.
Recorder Boothby heard that the first resident had called in Weathershield Roofing in April 2016 to repair the flat roof at his home in Dagnall.
A representative arrived and quoted £100, but returned the following day with a colleague and hiked the quote to £5,000, saying the whole roof needed replacing.
Both men - Fury and O’Reilly - then asked to inspect the loft, and returned to say the rafters needed replacing at a cost of £35,000.
Prosecuting Alexander Greenwood said the resident wrote a cheque for £20,000 in Mr O’Reilly’s name, but the following day he realised he had been conned and called family members.
When they inspected the loft, they could find no damage or defect to the rafters, and raised the alarm.
When the two men returned the following day to start work, Bucks Trading Standards officers were waiting for them at the address.
The court heard the same month another elderly resident from Dagnall called in Weathershield to look at her garden shed roof.
A representative, who introduced himself as “John”, quoted £300 for the repairs and raised it to £1,600 when the resident asked him to look at the guttering, before then dropping the price to £1,300.
She paid £1,380 into Mr O’Reilly’s bank account.
Mr Greenwood told the court the resident was unhappy with the work, however when she tried to call Weathershield to complain the guttering was poorly fitted and didn’t catch rainwater, she found herself diverted to Tesco.
O’Reilly eventually called her back and the two men returned to fix the problem but, the court was told, work was to a poor standard.
Surveyor Charles Leigh-Dugmore, called in by Trading Standards to assess the value of the work, said he considered the work done by the two men at the first house was worthless and that, anyway, there was nothing wrong with the timbers and insulation in the loft.
His report on the work they did at the second house valued it at just over £250 (ex VAT), although a reasonable professional rate would have been around £650 (ex VAT).
Recorder Boothby described the actions of the two men - both of whom had been given suspended jail sentences for similar offences in 2014 - as a mean, low crime that inflicted misery on old and vulnerable people.
He told the two men: “Both of you have done it before, both of you know that you would go to prison you next time you did this.
“Suspended sentences don’t work with you and therefore you will go to prison immediately.”
Noel Brown, Bucks County Council cabinet member for community engagement, said the family’s early alert was vital in enabling the speedy response and investigation by the Trading Standards and Thames Valley Police partnership.
Cllr Brown said: “I’m really grateful to the family for getting in touch so quickly.
“An early alert from family or watchful neighbours is just what we need to give our team valuable time to catch these criminals.
“Our elderly and vulnerable residents have a right to feel safe and secure from excessive overcharging by preying scammers.
“This case demonstrates that we are doing our utmost to rid Buckinghamshire of this kind of mean crime.”