Unscrupulous rogue builders who conned elderly and vulnerable householders including actor Jude Law’s late gran into paying huge bills were jailed for what a judge called "merciless deceit in their own homes."
Caernarfon Crown Court heard an 84-year-old ex-school caretaker from Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, who had health and mobility problems and "could only shuffle to the door" was swindled out of his £656,000 life savings between August 2009 and September 2015 for unnecessary and substandard roofing work to his detached three-bedroom bungalow.
He’d been told his roof had collapsed.
Retired biology teacher Meinwen Parry, in her 80s, from Bangor, grandmother of Jude Law, and who had attended her funeral, had memory problems, and was defrauded of £60,900, prosecutor Elen Owen said.
A third victim, aged 84 and from Holyhead, lost £1,000. An attempt was also made to cheat a woman of 78 from Benllech, Anglesey, of £3,500.
Builder Steven Jones, 38, a professional roofer of Maeshyfryd Road, Llangefni, who admitted fraud, was one of those who did work on the Penrhyn Bay bungalow.
He was jailed for eight years. Judge Huw Rees told Jones he had defrauded victims of almost three quarters of a million pounds, with at least two of them suffering significant ill health.
The judge told him he'd been involved in "a prolonged and planned course of conduct from 2009 to 2016."
Defence barrister Andrew McInnes said he was "remorseful and ashamed of his involvement."
Bedwyr Roberts, 34, a security guard, of Queens Avenue, Bangor, had received 39 cheques amounting to £300,000 from the elderly man between May 2011 and December 2014.
He pleaded guilty to money laundering a total of £680,000 and was jailed for six years. His counsel, Brett Williamson, said what weighed down upon him the most was that he had involved his partner Caryn Owen.
He didn't have a lavish lifestyle and became involved because of misguided loyalty.
His partner Caryn Owen, 51, the oldest defendant, was jailed for 20 months for money laundering just under £70,000. The court heard she was now likely to lose a job in the Post Office after 30 years.
Daniel Taylor, 34, of Llangefni, got a two-year sentence for fraud, the judge saying he'd played a leading role in obtaining false paperwork.
Six other defendants got suspended sentences for money laundering roles and were ordered to carry out unpaid work.
Police had become involved after Gwynedd trading standards were alerted by bank staff worried about Miss Parry. Officers began to visit her regularly and in June 2014 Steven Jones was seen at the pensioner’s door.
She appeared distressed and his fingerprints were found on an invoice. The victim died in 2015 aged 89 after a fall, the prosecutor added.
Analysis of her bank account showed that Miss Parry had paid out a total of £60,916 in 17 cheques between September 2012 and June 2014.
The judge asked that the Chief Constable should be told about the "detailed and meticulous investigation" carried out by two detective constables - Catherine Walker and Gwyn Williams.
Welcoming the sentences, investigating officer DC Walker said :“This case has demonstrated just how low some people will sink to exploit the vulnerable in our community.
These were despicable acts where elderly, vulnerable people were deliberately targeted and deprived of their life savings. They do so with absolutely no conscience or thought of the damage they inflict.
“Money that was needed to ensure a comfortable retirement has seemingly vanished and at this point there seems little hope in tracing and returning it to its rightful owner. Sadly, one of the victims has since passed away.
“North Wales Police will relentlessly pursue and prosecute those few who prey on the vulnerable but our success rests with communities passing information and suspicions to us.
"We must continue to work together and so I’d encourage the public to let us know of their suspicions. Information, no matter how little, may be the missing link which results in an investigation commencing.”
Det Inspector Gerwyn Thomas added :“I welcome today’s outcome and acknowledge the courage of the victims and witnesses in coming forward, and the contribution of Trading Standards, the Crown Prosecution Service and two dedicated young detectives which has resulted in a prolonged investigation coming to a successful conclusion.”