Jailed rogue trader will be forced to pay back the people he swindled

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POLICE are determined that a conman, jailed for swindling more than £120,000 from elderly people, should be made to pay back every penny.

Derek Hepple ran a burglar alarm company, which targeted frail and confused pensioners across Britain.

Derek Hepple

Derek Hepple

Once he had their financial details, the 44-year-old – from Kingsway, Houghton – also plundered some of his victims’ accounts for cash without doing any work.

His company, Night and Day, based in Washington, charged up to 20 times the going rate for work on home security systems.

Detectives discovered he had blown more than £250,000 in four years on luxury holidays to the Caribbean and expensive cars, including a Porsche 911 and an Audi RS6.

But now they have used the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to lodge an application which could force Hepple to pay back £120,000 he took from his victims – and possibly more.

“We are determined to get this money back for the men and women he conned,” said Detective Constable Roger Butler, from Northumbria Police.

“These were despicable crimes. Hepple and his employees deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable customers to make vast gains.”

Hepple had already served a three-year prison sentence, imposed in 2001, for charging £3,600 for a carbon monoxide alarm worth £29.99.

But just two years after his release, detectives discovered he had targeted a 76-year-old widow from Durham, who had suffered a stroke.

Hepple charged her £30,500 for an alarm upgrade, but then thousands more started disappearing from her account.

A 72-year-old woman from South Shields was charged more than 20 times what she should have been, and was calculated to have lost £17,683.

Det Con Butler said: “Hepple has been driven by greed, as shown by his previous conviction, and the fact that he continued to offend while out on bail for these offences.

“During questioning he remained silent, so we never really got to know what he thought about his victims, but he certainly showed no remorse.”

Hepple admitted conspiracy to defraud when he appeared before Newcastle Crown Court.

He was jailed for four years and eight months by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday.

Hepple, who is believed to own several houses and flats in the North East, is suspected of owing money elsewhere.

Det Con Butler said: “We believe Hepple has enough money to pay the £120,000 he owes to his victims and they will get their money first.”

Police have also promised to use new legislation to watch him when he is released from prison.

He faces being issued with a Serious Crime Prevention Order and a Financial Reporting Order which means, if he sets up in business again, police will be able to inspect what he does.