02 October 2012

A roofer who overcharged vulnerable elderly people has been jailed for four years following a successful operation between trading standards officials and police in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

William Wallace, 39, of Justin Park caravan park, Northampton Road, Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud involving victims ranging in age from 70 to 88.

He was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court on Thursday (27 Sept) to four years imprisonment.

The offences came to light when a building society cashier became suspicious about a request from an elderly customer, who had been escorted there by Wallace, to raise a cheque for £7,600. The building society refused to grant the cheque and raised concerns with Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards team.

Enquiries found that in the previous three months the victim had paid three cheques totalling £21,600 for work to her property. A surveyor commissioned by trading standards examined the work and valued it at £900.

As the investigation proceeded, it became apparent that similar offences involving other elderly people had been committed in Leicestershire and Suffolk during 2011.

Councillor Ben Smith, cabinet member for environment, said: "Wallace used cold calling methods to catch his victims unprepared, telling them they needed work done to repair defects. He then went on to carry out work to a substandard quality and hugely overcharged his victims.

“Members of the public should never feel pressured into making a decision or agreeing on the doorstep to having work done. Our advice is to avoid opening the door to someone if you’re not expecting them.”

Two other men who helped Wallace launder the cheques through their bank accounts were each jailed for six months.

Lee Warburton, aged 56 and Craig Taylor, aged 42 both of Whitehaven, Green Lane, Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to the charges of money laundering.