A COWBOY builder who conned a pensioner in South Tyneside out of more than £3,000 has been branded “wicked” and put behind bars.
Edward Hanrahan and two accomplices, believed to have fled abroad, targeted a 66-year-old man in South Shields – who was in poor health – and convinced him he was in desperate need of roof and ceiling repairs at his home.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the pensioner handed over £3,100, a large chunk of which they gambled away on a gaming machine.
The only home improvements the victim got was plaster board stuck over a hole in his ceiling.
Hanrahan, 39, of Mulberry Place, Ryhill, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, who was jailed for an almost identical offence in the 1990s, was sentenced to 18 months yesterday.
Mr Recorder Tim Roberts QC told him: “What you did was wicked. Squandering this elderly gentleman’s money in the betting shop and driving him to the bank to take out money defies description. This despicable offending deserves prison. This was planned, this was a technique you practised many years ago.”
The court heard the cheating trio had approached the victim when he was busy in his garden on February 26 last year and convinced him he needed work done. The victim handed more than £300 over at the first meeting and a further £1,200 at their second, which was two days later when they stayed for more than three hours doing minimal work.
The gang returned on March 4 and said they needed another £1,900, which the victim said he did not have available.
Prosecutor Amanda Rippon told the court: “They said they would take him to the bank. He was taken by them in a silver van to his bank. Cash was withdrawn, £1,900, which he gave them and they took him home.”
The court heard it was when he got back from the bank visit, that the man realised some cash was missing from his home.
The police were called and traced Hanrahan through the telephone number the victim had been given by the gang.
Miss Rippon said: “When he picked them up they had told him they were scaffolders. They also confessed they had just lost £1,200 on a gaming machine at a bookmakers.”
Hanrahan, who uses an alias of Winter, admitted fraud. Graeme Cook, defending, said Hanrahan is a family man with children who had got involved in someone else’s scam.