Fraudster jailed for helping to con thousands from South Shields pensioner

O'Hara has been jailed for 10 months.
O'Hara has been jailed for 10 months.

A cowboy builder who fled abroad after conning a pensioner out of more than £3,000 in a repair work scam has been put behind bars.

Edward Hanrahan was jailed in 2014 for targeting a 64-year-old widower, who was in poor health, and convincing him to hand over cash in exchange for substandard work on his South Shields home the previous year.

The 39-year-old, who had two accomplices when he carried out the cruel con, was the only defendant caught by the authorities at the time.

Now, more than three years later, Karl O'Hara has been locked up for 10 months at Newcastle Crown Court for his role in the fraud, which he claims was a "menial" one.

The 37-year-old, of no fixed address, was recently arrested on a warrant issued at the time of the original court case and has since then clocked up another conviction against his name, in Sweden.

O'Hara was out on licence from a two-year jail term for a similar scam when he conned the pensioner with Hanrahan and the other, unknown accomplice in 2013.

The conmen convinced the pensioner, who was in poor health, that he was in desperate need of roof and ceiling repairs.

The victim handed over a total of £3,100 and was even driven to the bank by the gang when he ran out of ready cash at his home.

In return for his money, the victim was left with a huge gaping hole in one of his rooms that goes right through to the loft and his existing health problems have become worse.

No work at all was carried out on the roof, despite one of the conman climbing up there.

Hanrahan, of Mulberry Place, Rye Hill, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, who was jailed for an almost identical offence in the 1990s, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars for fraud in 2014.

O'Hara, of no fixed address, has now been sentenced to 10 months after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation.

Judge Robert Adams told him: "Whatever your role was, it was an active role in this agreement.

"You were clearly well aware of the fraud being perpetrated against him.

"One man went to the roof and did absolutely nothing."

The court heard the man has been left with a huge hole in his ceiling that remains there to this day.

He said in a victim statement he was "very relieved" O'Hara pleaded guilty which meant he did not have to give evidence in court.

But the victim added: "I have a hole of around 10ft by 5ft and can see straight through into the loft.

"I have no friends or family who can help me, I'm all alone.

"I constantly lock all my doors and windows to feel safe.

"I feel annoyed at myself for letting this happen, for letting them in."

The man said he does not now trust anyone enough to repair to do the repairs he needs.

He added: "I thought by getting this work done it would fix the problem but obviously it just made it worse.

"The hole was nowhere near the size it is now."

O'Hara will be eligible for release almost immediately due to the time he has served on remand.