Rogue traders jailed for conning elderly Wimborne woman out of £120,000

Four rogue traders have been jailed after conning an elderly Wimborne woman out of her £120,000 life savings.

John Hart, aged 61 and of Hannington Place in Bournemouth, Daniel Baker, 40 and of Cartwright Close in Bournemouth, Philip Budden, 37 and of Malmesbury Park Road in Bournemouth, and Daniel Sherwood, 34 and of Ringwood Road in Bournemouth, were all sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court today, Monday 30 October 2017.

Hart was jailed for six years and four months, Baker for two years and eight months, Budden for four years and six months and Sherwood was handed a five-year prison term.

Hart and Budden pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and Baker admitted money laundering offences at a hearing at the same court on Monday 2 October 2017. Sherwood was found guilty of two money laundering offences following a trial earlier this month.

The case related to the theft of £120,000 from a vulnerable elderly woman between March 2013 and July 2015.

The victim, who is now aged 88, paid out the money by making cheques for work that had either not been completed or had been poorly completed and she had been excessively charged.

Officers from Dorset Police were alerted to the offences when on 23 July 2015 information was received from Lloyds Bank in Ferndown raising concerns about transactions on the victim’s account.

The victim was initially contacted by Hart, who enquiried about installing house insulation as part of a government scheme. This resulted in her paying Hart £56,400 over the course of two years for work that was not needed. Budden also contacted the victim and obtained £24,059 in cheques for poor and unnecessary work.

An unidentified man who claimed to work for the local authority attended the victim’s home and said he had found a water leak which had been traced to her address. The victim was asked to pay a total of £40,400 for the work to be repaired. There was no evidence of any work ever having taken place. Baker admitted to receiving the money but claimed he did not go to the address or meet the victim. This was not disputed by the prosecution, which also accepted that there was no evidence linking Baker to Hart and Budden.

Sherwood was found guilty of receiving some of the money received by Baker.

The victim paid for further work to her home including repairs to her roof, insulation, damp proofing and general work around the house and garden. Independent experts ruled that the prices quoted were highly excessive and the work had either not been carried out or was of poor quality.

Officer in the case Detective Inspector Fiona Gaffney said: “John Hart and Philip Budden befriended and targeted an elderly vulnerable woman and conned her into believing work was needed for her home. They have now been handed lengthy prison sentences.

“Dorset Police and the court takes these offences extremely seriously and we remain committed to protecting and safeguarding vulnerable residents. I would ask members of the community to report any concerns about such activity to the police so it can be thoroughly investigated.

“This case should also send out a very strong warning that Dorset Police will ensure all individuals benefitting from fraud, not just those directly involved, will be sought and prosecuted.”