Rogue trader from Great Billington is jailed

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A scammer from Great Billington has been jailed for nine months alongside his partner-in-crime after exploiting two elderly residents.

John O’Reilly, of Stanbridge Road, and his cohort Tommy Fury, of Chipping Norton, gave a £100 quote for repairs to an elderly man’s roof in April 2016.

But this gradually rose to a staggering £35,000 as the pair found more “work” to do. The repairs were not needed and last Friday, July 7, the rogue duo were jailed at Aylesbury Crown Court.

They had previously given suspended sentences for a similar crime in 2014.

Passing sentence, Mr Recorder J Boothby described the pair’s actions as a “mean, low crime that inflicted misery on old and vulnerable people”.

He added: “Both you have done it before, both of you knew that you would go to prison the next time you did this. Suspended sentences don’t work with you and therefore you will go to prison immediately.”

The court was told that the elderly man had called in the pair’s firm, Weathershield Roofing, in April 2016 to repair the flat roof at his Dagnall home. After an initial quote of £100, the pair returned the following day and hiked the quote to £5,000, saying the whole roof needed replacing.

Both Fury and O’Reilly then asked to inspect the loft and returned to say the rafters needed replacing at a cost of £35,000.

Prosecutor Alexander Greenwood said the resident wrote a cheque for £20,000 in Mr O’Reilly’s name but the following day he realised he had been conned and called family members.

When they inspected the loft, they could find no damage or defect to the rafters and they raised the alarm.

When the two men returned the following day to start work, Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards officers were waiting for them.

The court also heard of their dealings with another elderly resident living in Aylesbury. An original £300 quote for repairs to her shed roof had turned into a £1,600 bill for new guttering, although the price was dropped to £1,300.

Surveyor Charles Leigh-Dugmore, called in by Trading Standards to assess the value of the work, said he considered the work done by the two men at the first house was worthless and that, anyway, there was nothing wrong with the timbers and insulation in the loft.

His report on the work they did at the second house valued it at just over £250 (ex VAT), although a reasonable professional rate would have been around £650 (ex VAT).

Bucks County Council cabinet member for community engagement Noel Brown said: “I’m really grateful to the family for getting in touch so quickly. An early alert from family or watchful neighbours is just what we need to give our team valuable time to catch these criminals.

“Our elderly and vulnerable residents have a right to feel safe and secure from excessive overcharging by preying scammers. This case demonstrates that we are doing our utmost to rid Buckinghamshire of this kind of mean crime.”