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CON men builders tried to trick a pensioner into carrying out £1,500 of unneeded work on the roof of his home.
Now widower Michael Griffiths is warning others not to let con artists Roy Ellis and James Doran do work on their homes.
The pair were convicted of fraud after trying to hoodwink the 74-year-old into believing his roof needed substantial repairs, but were caught out when Mr Griffiths’ bank manager smelled a rat and called the police as he tried to withdraw £1,500 to give the fraudster.
Speaking after the pair were convicted, Mr Griffiths told The Argus: “I really hope no one else gets caught out by them.
“I would say to anyone else ‘don’t let these men anywhere near your home’.”
James Doran visited Mr Griffiths’ home touting for roofing work last July but the homeowner said he did not need anything done.
Two weeks later Doran returned, saying he had been driving past and noticed a loose slate on Mr Griffiths’ roof, which he would fix for £20.
The conniving duo then claimed they had found he needed £4,000 worth of work that needed doing
Mr Griffiths agreed but when he went to check on progress half an hour later, he found Ellis up a ladder pulling tiles off his roof and Doran standing next to a stack of tiles on the ground.
Mr Griffiths has lived in his immaculately kept home in Hangleton Road for more than 20 years and regularly checked his roof for signs of wear and tear.
Giving evidence at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Mr Griffiths said: “They said the structure was rotten and the felt would need relaying.
“The one on the ground said it would cost £4,000.
“I said that was rather a large amount.
“Then they said they could bring the price down to £1,500 if I put their advertising sign outside and to avoid the tax. They said the taxman gets enough.
“They said I should tell the bank the money was for a holiday and they went off in their Land Rover.
“On the bus on the way over to the bank I was already thinking it didn’t seem right.”
Lee Punter, the manager at the Church Road branch of Lloyds, said that Mr Griffiths was one of their last remaining customers using a bank book and he made regular small withdrawals.
The bank manager said he was “immediately concerned” and called the police.
Officers stopped the pair at the Hangleton Esso, near Mr Griffiths’ home.
They claimed to be landscape gardeners looking for work.
After finding the pair guilty of fraud by false representation, Judge Theresa Szagun said: “Mr Griffiths was a somewhat confused and vulnerable elderly gentleman, but that did not discredit him as a witness.
“It was clear to me nothing was wrong with his roof.
“I do take these offences extremely seriously.
“You set out to target Mr Griffiths and obtain this work fraudulently, looking to gain at least £1,500 for yourselves.”
Doran, 22, of Griff Caravan Site, Coventry Road, Nuneaton, and Ellis, 25, of Sutton Road, Southampton, were sentenced to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Griffiths said: “Unfortunately this is the first time I have slipped up.
“Now I’m much more careful.
“I realise now what they are, total con artists.”
Source: The Argus