Conman who targeted elderly and vulnerable jailed

A young conman who targeted elderly and vulnerable people in Scarborough, charging thousands of pounds for unnecessary work, has been jailed.

Patrick Christopher Dunne, 20, pleaded guilty to 34 counts of fraud and consumer protection offences and laundering the proceeds of his offences.

He was sentenced to two years and nine months at York crown court.

Trading standards officers identified numerous victims in North Yorkshire and the West Midlands who had been visited by Dunne between February 2017 and May 2018, when he was arrested.

The court was told he would offer to carry out inexpensive quick fixes and then inform the householders he had “discovered” further problems. Trading as Phoenix Roofing, Dunne charged significantly more for the additional work, sometimes running into thousands of pounds.

He was prosecuted in relation to 17 victims, including elderly and vulnerable people. Among them were:

* A man aged 84 who agreed to have dry-verge capping installed on his roof at a cost of £300. Dunne then told him the batons were rotten, some tiles had holes in and the roof needed cleaning. He charged the victim £6,500. 

* A woman aged 76 who came home to find her ill husband had agreed to Dunne carrying out work to their roof for £180. Dunne later demanded £2,250 from her. 

* A woman aged 67 who lived on her own who agreed for Dunne to put dry-verge capping on her roof for £180. Dunne then told her the felt and wooden batons were rotten and charged her £4,000. An expert surveyor, who examined the roof as part of the case, found the work should have cost no more than £760 and that Dunne’s efforts had led to further repairs costing another £750.

Sentencing Dunne, judge Sean Morris told him: “In my view, you embarked on a deliberate course of conduct, targeting elderly and vulnerable people to make money for yourself. Some have been affected financially, some are fearful that somebody will come back and others are disgusted at themselves for no good reason. How you live with yourself I do not know. These courts will protect the elderly and vulnerable. When people are brought to book, and it’s expensive to do so for this kind of offence, the proper punishment must be seen to be handed out. This has to be looked at as a campaign of targeting elderly people”.

The daughter of an 85-year-old victim said: “This case is a warning to any families or friends of vulnerable people. These 'tradesmen' are very persuasive, convincing and threatening. We had no idea our dad had had someone to do anything on the roof until after his money had been taken. It's a horrible thought that someone was in the house watching him make a payment from his account. It could have been a lot worse”.