Wetherby conman jailed

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A Wetherby man has been jailed for conning elderly people with dementia out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Ryan Lowe, 21, of Spring Lane Wetherby and Stephen Wood, 30, grossly overcharged for repair and gardening work, most of which was never carried out, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The men, members of a travelling family based in West Yorkshire, toured North Yorkshire identifying elderly people living alone, the court was told.

They both pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering.

Lowe, was jailed for three years and Wood, already in prison for similar offences, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

One victim, an 88-year-old widower from Haxby, near York, was charged £72,000 for work which was never carried out.

Kathleen Gardner, an 84-year-old widow from Thornton-le-Dale, was charged more than £6,000 for botched repairs to roof tiles which should have cost just £30.

Kathleen Gardner now lives in a care home North Yorkshire County Council’s Trading Standards team started an investigation after being contacted by Mrs Gardner’s nephew, Michael Hall.

Mr Hall reported that she had called him in a distressed state after she was confronted by men demanding money for roofing work.

Checks on her bank account later revealed she had paid three cheques to Lowe.

North Yorkshire county councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for North Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “This case demonstrates once again the devastating impact this type of crime has on victims and their families, and the importance of the work done by trading standards in tackling such abhorrent offences.

“It also demonstrates the importance of community support for the elderly and the vulnerable, and the need to report suspicious activity to trading standards or the police immediately. The sooner offenders can be stopped, the less money they can obtain from their innocent victims by fraud or theft.”