A COMMUNITY has rallied round after conmen ripped off a pensioner who has cancer.
The 79-year-old widower, who did not want to be identified, handed over £3,000 to the rogue traders for re-laying his drive.
But the work was so badly done that it cracked and started leaking – just two weeks later.
The scam happened when a man cold-called the pensioner at his home in Houghton and a team of workers arrived as soon as he agreed to have the drive done.
The victim, who only has one eye, was unhappy with some of the work, but paid the men in cash.
They told him they were sleeping in tents near Peterlee and agreed to return the following week to put things right, but disappeared without trace.
Northumbria Police confirmed a complaint had been made, which was referred to Trading Standards.
Now genuine firms have offered to help repair the botched job for a fraction of the cost.
Concerned neighbours of the pensioner, who suffers from prostate cancer, contacted R&G Landscapes to get a quote.
But when owner Greg Francis saw the state of the man’s drive, he offered his services for free.
Mr Francis has also called on friends in the trade, who have all offered to supply materials at a reduced cost.
“It honestly is atrocious,” he said. “It is possibly the worst job I have ever seen, as far as drives go.”
He described the conned householder as “a lovely old bloke.
“When I went out and had a chat with him, I was nearly in tears.
“If you met this man, your heart would go out to him.
“He was feeding these people and giving them old clothes, because they told him they didn’t have any.”
Mr Francis, from Newbottle, said dodgy workmen make life harder for honest companies.
“Along with builders, we have some of the worst reputations going.
“They just give us a bad image and people are really wary about getting things done.
In a bid to combat this, his firm has signed up with a registered trades scheme run by Trading Standards at Durham County Council.
A host of North East firms helped out with the proper job at the Houghton pensioner’s home.
Those which agreed to supply materials and tools at cost price were Hire Me Tool Hire, Herrington Burn; Grab & Deliver, Herrington Burn; Coxhoe Paving; Marshalls and Travis Perkins in Durham and Wilf Husband, Houghton.