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Cowboy builders conned pensioners out of £100k

A gang of rogue builders admitted conning elderly residents out of more than £100,000 and spent the ill-gotten proceeds in the pub, a court heard today.
They preyed on vulnerable pensioners and time and again demanded cash for work that was unnecessary, badly carried out or worthless, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The worst affected victim, a 70-year-old single man from Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, lost £58,000 and was left penniless by the repeated con.

The men, John Richards, George Chaffer and Allan Phillips, would drive the retired metallurgist to the bank where he withdrew thousands of pounds to pay for repairs at his home that were worthless.

Another victim, from Billingham, Teesside, lost £40,000 for work on her bungalow, while a couple from Northallerton were conned out of almost £8,000.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, for North Yorkshire Trading Standards, told the court: 'They would finish the working day at 11 in the morning and they would go to the pub for the duration of the afternoon and drink until the money ran out.'

Mr Phillips, 41, of Redcar, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud today, after he initially denied the charge.

Mr Richards, 51, also of Redcar, said to be the ringleader, and Mr Chaffer, 45, pleaded guilty to the three-year conspiracy at a previous hearing and were not in court today.

The case was adjourned until this afternoon when the court will hear Phillips's basis of plea.

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