Conmen jailed after targeting elderly in Ripon

William King, aged 34.
William King, aged 34.
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Two conmen who cheated elderly victims out of tens of thousands of pounds with shoddy or non-existent repairs to static caravans have been jailed after they were caught in Ripon.

William King, 35, and Gavin James Findley, 30, both of Newark, Nottinghamshire, were handed sentences of six years and three years’ imprisonment respectively at York Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) after both pleaded guilty to charges of fraud by false representation and conspiracy to defraud at a previous hearing.

Gavin Findley, aged 30.

Gavin Findley, aged 30.

King, who commanded foot soldiers in the £135,000 rogue trading fraud across the UK, carried out the deception which conned 48 pensioners – some in their 80s – for three years until an OAP in Ripon complained to North Yorkshire Police who launched an investigation.

The court heard Findley – pictured inset, of Elizabeth Road, Newark – joined him towards the end of the fraud along with a third man, Todd Berridge, 20, of Marshland Drive, Holbeach, Lincolnshire, and formerly of Tonley Lane, Newark, who was given 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work after previously pleading guilty to charges of aiding and abetting King and Findley.

Judge Shaun Spencer QC described King – of Sandhill Sconce, Tolney Lane, Newark – as the “mastermind” of the fraud, which involved the gang targeting elderly people living in park mobile home sites in the UK claiming work needed doing to their properties. The judge said the work done “amounted to the minutest fraction in value of the sum paid” and the offences should be treated as a crime against the person similar to burglary.

One man, aged 80, was charged £4,000 for work not carried out while a 73-year-old woman agreed a small amount of work for £200.But then the men “effectively began to dismantle her roof” and asked for more cash. The damage cost her £600 to put right. As well as Ripon, victims lived in Devon, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Investigating officer Det Con Lesley Raffan of Harrogate CID said: “These men targeted vulnerable, elderly people and they acted with impunity across the country, often targeting several people in one neighbourhood.

“Thanks to the vigilance of a Ripon resident who did exactly the right thing by calling the police, the men were caught and brought to justice. They deserve every minute of their jail sentence which gives them ample time to reflect on their despicable crimes.”