Jail for builder who conned pensioners out of £5,000

Steven Robinson.

Steven Robinson.

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A builder who fleeced an elderly couple out of thousands of pounds over roofing work has been jailed.

Steven Robinson, who lived in Lancaster at the time of the fraud, cold called at the home of his victims, both in their 80s, and led them to believe that a large amount of work needed doing.

The couple handed over £5,050, but all Robinson and a colleague did was some power washing and installation of dry verges which were not the right ones.

Robinson then carried out another fraud on an 84-year-old woman who was persuaded to pay £23,000 for a new roof, where just a small amount of work was done.

Robinson, 31, formerly of Hope Street, Lancaster and now of Bradford, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud. A judge at Preston Crown court jailed him for 18 months.

Rachel Woods, prosecuting, said the pair cold called at the couple’s address in Poulton, claiming there were loose slates on the roof.

Robinson’s colleague, who appeared to be the boss, offered to take a closer look for £150.

The elderly man was then told the job was far more serious than first thought. He was shown broken tiles and bits of wood, told there were loose slates and rotting wood and that it would be a big job, priced £4,000.

Miss Woods said: “Over the next few days people were on the roof, different ones came and went. Robinson was persistently at the address throughout.

“On the last day he knocked on the door and asked for another £750 for plastic sheeting said to have been used to finish off rough edges.

“At the end of the job the man was given a receipt by the defendant and his fingerprints were subsequently found on it.”

And a few days later, the elderly man got a phone call from the boss, who said VAT would have to be paid on top. Again, Robinson went to the home for an extra £800.

The police were informed due to concerns of the couple’s son and a neighbour. A senior building surveyor went on to examine the work.

“He concluded that all that had really taken place was power washing of roof tiles and the installation of dry verges, which were the incorrect type,” added Miss Woods.

“He estimated that the work was worth £1,500 to £1,700.”

When arrested Robinson accepted having a business called North West Property Maintenance which wasn’t registered for VAT because he said he didn’t earn enough to be eligible.

He told the police he did the work for some travellers and said a man he had met in a Lancaster pub gave him the couple’s address on a piece of paper and £500.

Brian Williams, defending, said Robinson’s actions were “mean” and richly deserved prison.

He also said Robinson had not been the main mover in what took place.

“(Robinson) really has been thinking hard about the way his life has gone in the last few years and wants to change it; he wants to be a family man”, said Mr Williams.