Jail for ‘rogue’ con man who targeted elderly

A CON man who claimed to be a drainage specialist and defrauded unsuspecting residents of tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed for three years

Julian Matthew Donoher, 36, from Derby, was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday, January 3 following an investigation by North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards officers.

They were alerted in December 2009 when a Harrogate couple, Jane and Richard Morris, made a complaint.

Between November and December 2009 they had paid the defendant over £5,500 to have the drains of their property repaired. They then contacted their insurance company, to make a claim for the work, and the inspector sent out by the insurers found the work had not been done.

Telling them he had to dig up the pipes to reline them, Donoher had dug a hole three metres deep in the garden - but it was nowhere near the drains.

After further inquiries, trading standards officersfound a further six householders in North Yorkshire and four elsewhere in the region had been conned out of money when Donoher had been called to their homes.

In each case, he charged them for work he had not carried out.

In total, Donoher was paid £28,000 by 12 householders aged between 63 and 82. He pleaded guilty to 33 offences of fraud and money laundering.

Sentencing him this week, Judge Howard Crowson said: “This was a deliberately planned professional fraud where businesses were used to target victims… many of whom were elderly and vulnerable.

“Your intention was to try and prey on those sorts of people.”

Mr and Mrs Morris said: “Two years ago we had a miserable Christmas.

“The drain blocked and the firm we hired to repair it dug a hole over 12ft deep through our new paving.

“For nine days we gave hospitality to the men who we thought were there to help us.

“After they left we discovered that the remedial works described in their invoice had not been carried out – all they had done was to dig a hole and fill it in again.

“Had it not been for the helpful insurance company employee, who first revealed the trick, and North Yorkshire Trading Standards who doggedly sought the offender and then brought him to justice, our faith in honest workmen would have been shaken.

“We are grateful to those who, over many months, have painstakingly gathered evidence to expose the swindle.

“We hope that others will be alerted and that a worthwhile step has been taken to prevent this sort of crime happening again.”

County Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for trading standards said: “This man is a complete rogue.

“His actions were contemptible and we are delighted with this result. It should both reassure the public of our intentions to deal robustly with such individuals and also send a strong message to like-minded offenders.”