Sunderland man due in court over fraud after terminally ill woman paid £2,000 for garden work which wasn't done

A Sunderland man is due in court charged with a suspected fraud – while police turned gardeners to help out a terminally ill woman believed to be his victim.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 5:08 pm

Durham Constabulary launched an investigation after the Seaham woman reported she had paid a Wearside landscaper more than £2,000, but her garden remained neglected.

The woman had hoped to enjoy her outdoor space this spring, but was unable to work on it due to her declining health, prompting her to seek assistance on social media and the man taking on the job.

While enquiries into the alleged fraud were being carried out, a team of officers from Seaham Neighbourhood Police Team and members of the community took matters into their own hands, setting about renovating the garden in their own free time.

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Durham Constabulary worked alongside the community to revamp a terminally ill woman's garden following a suspected fraud incident.

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Enlisting the help of local businesses to supply materials and specialist services, the garden received a full makeover spanning paving, fencing and plumbing.

Seaham officers treated the garden to new turf, an outside tap to keep the grass watered and all new planters and solar lights.

Pc Rob Milliken gave the old garden furniture a makeover, sanding it down and re-staining it so that the homeowner and her family would have somewhere nice to sit and enjoy the good weather.

Inspector Joanne Malkin said: “This case has really pulled at the heartstrings of the team, and we were determined to do what we could to make things better for the family, who I’m thrilled to say are delighted with the result.

“Everybody pulled together, and what we’ve achieved here reminds us of why we came into policing in the first place, and what a remarkable community it is that we serve.”

A 25-year-old man was arrested last week in connection with the incident and charged with fraud by false representation.

He will appear at Durham Crown Court on Tuesday, June 15.

Seaham Neighbourhood Policing Team has extended its thanks to Maxwell’s in Peterlee; James Burrell Builders Merchants in Sunderland; Shaw Trust Seaham; John Purvis; Byron Place Shopping Centre Management; Morrisons at Dalton Park; Wilkinsons in Byron Place; David Smith Building Merchants; Steven Walker and Dent Skip Hire.

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