Thursday, May 04, 2017
Lancashire victims of two "greedy and unscrupulous" brothers have received justice after the pair were jailed for defrauding elderly and vulnerable residents living on park home sites across the country of more than £100,000.
The case, taken by North Yorkshire Trading Standards, and supported by Lancashire Trading Standards, involves 27 victims of Nathan King, 38, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and John King, 34, of Coventry, who traded together as Guardian Park Homes Ltd.
They were sentenced last week at Newcastle Crown Court (on Friday 28 April) after earlier pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences on the first day of their trial at Teesside Crown Court.
The frauds involved the deliberate targeting of park home property owners on sites across the country from North Yorkshire to Northumberland and down to Somerset.
The case against them included evidence of fraud committed against 9 elderly people in Lancashire, who live on sites in Salterforth, Burnley, Haslingden, and Sabden.
The majority of victims were elderly and vulnerable. Park homes are notoriously difficult to keep warm and the brothers claimed they could fit external under-floor insulation to park home properties to help prevent heat loss. They also made claims that jacks supporting the properties needed replacing and, in some cases, frightened victims by telling them their homes were in danger of collapsing if the work was not done. Victims were charged grossly inflated amounts for poor-quality and unnecessary work, or work that provided none of the claimed benefits.
The brother’s foreman, Leon Williams, 29, (also known as Falcnor), also of Coventry, was also sentenced after pleading guilty to his part in the frauds by leading the gangs of workers, suggesting additional works to properties, completing company paperwork and taking payment from victims.
Williams was arrested with other workers in March 2015 at the home of an 82-year-old vulnerable woman living alone in the Skipton area. Attempts had been made to defraud her of £7,000.
The brothers were subsequently arrested in August 2015 during joint arrest and search operations with Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Lincolnshire police.
The court heard victim impact statements in which a number of the victims described their loss of confidence, the impact on their health, the extent of their financial losses and their loss of faith and trust in engaging traders. Many now face further costs for remedial works required to their homes.
Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards service, said: "This case, taken by our colleagues in North Yorkshire, shows how some unscrupulous individuals are willing to take advantage of our most vulnerable residents for their own gain with no thought for the financial impact and distress they cause.
"That they targeted often close-knit communities living on managed park home sites demonstrates that we all need to be alert to the threat posed by rogue traders, no matter where we live. Fortunately in this case these men have been brought to justice and the victims compensated in full.
"We would always advise people not to do business on the doorstep, and if you need work to maintain your home, get a number of quotes and agree a price and the work to be done in writing before going ahead. Our Safe Trader Scheme is a good place to begin if you're looking for trusted tradespeople."
The case involved a total of 27 victims, with those in Lancashire including
• A 65-year-old woman living alone, defrauded of £9,500.
• Two victims each defrauded of £6,000.
• A 74-year-old man, who had been widowed the previous month, defrauded of £17,400.
Sentencing the men, His Honour Judge Ashurst told them: "This is in my judgement a bad case of its type. You are brazen, greedy and unscrupulous men."
Nathan and John King were each sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. Leon Williams was given 10 months suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work for the community. Nathan King was also disqualified from being a company director for five years.
An agreement was reached with the defence for £112,930 to be paid from the Kings’ frozen bank accounts to compensate all 27 victims in full immediately, prior to full confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to remove the Kings’ assets.
The Kings were also imprisoned for four months in January 2017 after pleading guilty to contempt of court for breaching Proceeds of Crime Act restraint orders in the case.
The Kings’ brother, William King, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for similar offending at York Crown Court in January 2014, following an investigation by North Yorkshire Police.
You can find trusted tradespeople at www.safetrader.org.uk or call 0303 333 1111.
Tagged as: Consumer Advice