Bogus roofer jailed for fleecing pensioners

City of York Council | Trading Standards Service supplied picture of Donovan Ross Morley Clough.
City of York Council | Trading Standards Service supplied picture of Donovan Ross Morley Clough.

A doorstep criminal has been jailed for four years for fleecing dementia sufferers and other vulnerable pensioners out of thousands of pounds using a string of dirty tricks to con his way into their homes.

Donovan Ross Morley-Clough, 22, lied to victims saying he was a Christian who worked with charity Age UK as he drove around North and West Yorkshire, cold-calling on pensioners, including in Wetherby.

He fleeced 18 victims out of £15,600 but York Crown Court heard he had wanted £44,000 – but in many cases the pensioners became suspicious and contacted police or relatives.

Not one of his victims was under 70 and many were well into their 80s. They included dementia sufferer Joyce Lister, a frail 87-year-old who has since died, York Crown Court was told last Thursday.

He got £700 off her and claimed in his paperwork “to have given her an OAP discount”.

Other “disgraceful ploys” included bringing dead birds into houses and claiming they had been nesting in the roofs.

He also built a nest out of a hay bale and placed it on a roof top himself.

He dipped roofing material in water tanks in the loft and presented it to worried householders as evidence of leaks or damp, and removed slates so water could drip through ceilings to convince victims there were enough leaks to cause a cave-in or short out their electricity.

He also blocked up the plumbing with carrier bags to cause gutters to overflow and urinated in lofts to fool victims work needed doing. Victims were quoted “obscene” prices and he reduced perfectly good roofs to ones needing thousands of pounds of repairs.

Georgina Code, prosecuting, said Clough claimed to be qualified and a Christian affiliated to Age UK.

In fact, the York College drop-out had only completed seven and a half months of a bricklaying course and the only bona fide business he had run was washing car windows.

“The reality is he is a conman who based his entire business on deceiving vulnerable people, ” she said. “He would grossly over charge for any work he did do and any work done was of terrible standard.

“Frequently, he would leave their homes in a worse state than they had been in before so remedial works would be needed.”

Morley-Clough, 22, of Pinfold Close, Riccall, admitted 18 fraud and dishonesty offences relating to bogus roofing work committed over 14 months, many of them while he was on bail or subject to court orders.

The offences were committed between December 21, 2011, and February 17, 2013, against victims in Wetherby, Selby, York, Strensall, Haxby, Wheldrake, Riccall and Thorpe Willoughby.

Passing sentence, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: “There were a number of frankly disgraceful ploys used by you to persuade these people to part with their money.

“You were very persistent - going back time and time again to put customers under pressure. Some were driven to their banks to withdraw money because for obvious reasons you preferred cash.

“The elderly brood on these incidents. They feel a fool and can’t understand why they were taken in.

“In this case it is easy to see why. You had the gift of the gab, saying you were a Christian doing them a good turn.

“You are a complete hypocrite.”

Clough was also given an ASBO banning him from trading or advertising as a roofer for ten years.

The court heard he was on suicide watch in jail after trying to kill himself.

Two of Donovan Clough’s victims have died since proceedings began.