Cowboy builders targeted 84-year-old with £8,000 scam

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Court story
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TWO cowboy builders tried to take more than £8,000 from an elderly customer for work they didn’t do.

James Dolan and Jonathan Keogh targeted an 84-year-old woman who lived alone, Durham Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor John Gillette told the court the pair did some work to guttering, which may or may not have needed doing.

“What is clear is the new roof they advised was not needed,” said Mr Gillette. “The amount they tried to charge was way in excess of a fair price for the work done.”

Dolan, 26, of Greenacres Stables, Haswell, admitted fraud at an earlier hearing. Keogh, 28, of Station Road, Easington, denied acquiring criminal property.

His trial heard both men visited the victim’s house in Chester-le-Street over a few days last July. Dolan persuaded her to part with more than £4,000 in cash which has never been recovered. He also took a cheque from her for £3,800, which was made out to Keogh.

Keogh told the jury Dolan asked him to bank the cheque because there was “something wrong” with Dolan’s bank account.

Keogh claimed he believed the cheque to be legitimate which is why he agreed to assist Dolan.

The court heard bank staff were suspicious of the transaction and the cheque was not paid.

Keogh was convicted of acquiring criminal property after a trial lasting three days.

The Recorder, Ms Taryn Turner, ruled Keogh and Dolan should be sentenced at the same time.

Recorder Turner told Keogh: “You have been convicted of a serious offence. It is almost inevitable you will be going to prison when we next meet.”

Keogh was bailed on condition he lives at home and does not visit Chester-le-Street. Dolan is already on bail.

Both men will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.