'Vile' conmen charged vulnerable and elderly man 10 times the price for building work

Two cruel cowboy builders took over £3,000 from a lonely pensioner by charging 10 times the true price for odd jobs.

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 4:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 4:53 pm
Scott Wilcox, left, and Craig Cain.

Conmen Scott Wilcock, 38, and Craig Cain, 38, used fake names and claimed to be working for a made-up construction company when they targeted the 73-year-old in Ryhope, Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the pair, who operated under the names Andy and Dave, convinced the victim he needed to hand over cash for guttering work, ridge tile replacement, wall repairs and security devices at a cost of £3,091.

The man they took advantage of was 73.

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Prosecutor Paul Cross told the court: "The reasonable price would have been £395.

"They obtained a substantial amount of money from him in respect of building work which was either substandard or incomplete."

The court heard the men made repeated visits to the pensioner, who led a "solitary" life and had been targeted by conmen in the past, between September and October last year.

On top of the building work, the fraudsters said they could help the man put in a claim for compensation over a damaged wall and took cash from him for legal services.

They also promised to put up a security camera which would link to a colleague's computer and protect his home.

Even after the men had been questioned and bailed by the police they went back to the house in a bid to get more but the victim did not hand any more money over.

Wilcock, of Watling Avenue, Seaham, and Cain, of Eastlea Crescent, Seaham, both admitted fraud.

Judge Simon Batiste told them: "This was a vile offence where you repeatedly attended the home address of a man aged 73, a solitary man who craved company, someone who was clearly very vulnerable and someone who you both deliberately took advantage of the vulnerability.

"He gave you over £3,000 in cash for work that was frankly unnecessary and even if the work was required, the valuation was found to be only £395."

The court heard since the offending, both men have served prison sentences, imposed at Durham Crown Court, for a similar scam they committed together, on another vulnerable victim.

Judge Batiste said "there has been progress made" since the men were last locked up and that a suspended prison term would allow the work to continue and reduce the future risk they pose.

Wilcock, who took the "lead role" in the scam was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with programme requirements and a four-month night time curfew.

Cain was stenced to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a two-month night time curfew.

Defence barristers said the men had made "extraordinary" efforts since they were freed from custody.