Serial South Shields conman jailed for carrying out shoddy work on 93-year-old’s garden

Michael Joyce.
Michael Joyce.

A serial conman who defrauded a vulnerable pensioner after carrying out shoddy garden work has been put behind bars for a year.

Callous Michael Joyce conned his 93-year-old victim by charging more than the work was worth.

The 55-year-old appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court charged with two counts of fraud by false representation after charging in excess for the labour.

After initially pleading not guilty to the offences, he changed his plea to guilty on the day he appeared in court.

Joyce, of John Reid Road, South Shields, was sentenced to a total of 52 weeks in prison.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £1,000 in compensation to his victim.

Joyce has more than 70 previous convictions, many for similar offences.

In October 2014 targeted a vulnerable 71-year-old, offering to mow his grass and cut down some brambles.

But after doing the work, the conman turned nasty and started demanding double the amount which had been agreed.

He shouted at the pensioner at the top of his voice, intimidating him into handing over savings, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

As the 52-year-old, who has 75 previous convictions, was led off to prison after being jailed and told to pay back the pensioner, he shouted: “I hope he buys flowers for his grave.”

The victim, from Gateshead, who is in poor health, told in a statement to the court he thought he’d been targeted because of his frailty.

He said: “I was happy to pay him what we’d agreed but he threatened me and demanded more.

“I think he did this because he knew I was vulnerable and defenceless.

“I felt I had no option but to give him the money, I was worried if I didn’t he would attack me.

“I was left very upset and shocked by this incident.”

Joyce, who was in debt to his cocaine dealer, knocked on the door of the pensioner’s bungalow on May 14 and asked if he wanted some gardening done.

The 71-year-old, unable to maintain his garden, agreed Joyce could cut his grass and chop down some brambles for £300.

After just 90 minutes of work, he said himself and his helper now wanted £600.

Police were called after the pensioner told a support worker at a day care centre what had happened.

Locking up Joyce for two years and a month for blackmail and ordering him to pay £300 compensation, Recorder Stephen Morris QC told him: “You targeted an elderly and vulnerable man who was forced to spend his savings.

“It must have been a frightening experience for him.”