Holidays

Rogue builder ripped off OAPS and blew cash on holidays

A rogue builder involved in conning vulnerable pensioners out of thousands of pounds spent some of the cash on foreign family holidays.

The trusting victims of Northwest UPVC handed over deposits for roofing repairs and other jobs, but the promised work never materialised.

One of them, a Norris Green man who lost nearly £5,000 to the fraudsters, wept as he told a jury how he had been conned out of his savings.

The mastermind behind the dishonesty, Mark Miles, suffered a serious head injury in an accident during the period of the fraud and he has since been found unfit to enter a plea to the charges he faced.

His health problems led to his business partner Keith Gilbert playing an increasing role and Liverpool Crown Court was told that by the time Halton Trading Standards caught up with them 11 customers had been cheated out of a total of £17,190.

Gilbert, 39, of Newmoore Lane, Runcorn, was jailed for 19 months today after admitting money-laundering between November 2014 and November 2015.

He was found to have benefited by £17,190 and as he has more than that in equity in his holiday home in Spain the judge ordered him to hand that sum over in compensation to the victims.

If he does not pay that within three months he faces an extra 10 months in prison unless he applies for an extension period.

Owen Edwards, prosecuting, told the court that Halton Trading Standards became involved in autumn 2014 after receiving a number of complaints. An officer arranged to meet Miles at Runcorn Town Hall on November 17 and he turned up with Gilbert whom he described as his business partner.

Miles said they used two canvassers to make cold calls to establish leads and once established Miles would attend and provide prices. Miles was told about the complaints and the need to improve their methods which he seemed to accept.

However complaints continued “to increase in volume” as did the excuses from the two men when she tried to contact them. It was found that the firm’s office in Runcorn was just a “virtual” office which had been paid for by Gilbert.

Mr Edwards said: “During 2015 Miles continued to attend customers’ houses, taking money for work which was never carried out.”

Video Loading

Video Unavailable

One of the customers refused to hand over a cash deposit, instead asking for bank details, and Gilbert set a bank account up.

“It was that bank account that really allowed trading standards to start looking into Keith Gilbert’s affairs,” he said.

It was found that £18,300 had gone through it in the 13 months prior to October 2015 “clearly related to deposits of duped customers.”

Attempts to contact Gilbert by trading standards were met with excuses or were just ignored and when finally formerly interviewed in April last year he claimed he as just a driver and denied being a partner.

But when officers went to his home in March this year they discovered a car emblazoned with the firm’s logo and documentation relating to another bank account trading as Northwest UPVC bearing his details and payments from customers.

Payments had been made out for foreign holidays including to Thomas Cook, said Mr Edwards.

He said that the majority of the fraud’s victims, who lived in the Warrington area, St Helens, Runcorn and Norris Green, were pensioners.

Jeremy Lasker, defending, said Gilbert was a family man in a stable relationship with a wife and three children and had no previous convictions for such offences.

Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said he accepted that Gilbert “had not been the moving force behind this particular business. You joined it as a driver but increasingly played a part in it.”

He said it was s serious offence and he had “squandered” some of the takings on holidays.

Miles, 48, of Greenbridge Close, Castlefields, Runcorn, received a community order in June after it was found that he had carried out 11 fraud offences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

eleven − 4 =