Knaresborough brothers jailed after defrauding elderly residents in "disgraceful" gardening scam

Kofi James Hooton (s)

Kofi James Hooton (s)

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Two brothers from Knaresborough have been jailed after defrauding money from vulnerable and elderly residents in a roofing and gardening scam.

Shane Hooton, 24, and his brother Kofi James Hooton, 22, both of Thistle Hill, Knaresborough, traded together as One Stop Roofing, cold calling residents primarily in Harrogate.

Shane Heath Hooton

Shane Heath Hooton

Between 2012 and 2015 their victims were persuaded to have unnecessary and shoddy work undertaken, were charged excessive amounts and, in the worst cases, were repeatedly visited for further work to be undertaken.

The two brothers pleaded guilty a York Crown Court on Friday to conspiring to defraud and laundering the proceeds of their offending.

Sentencing the brothers to 20 months in prison, His Jonour Judge Batty QC said he was sending a message that targeting elderly people was “not acceptable".

He said: “The two of you knew perfectly well that you were targeting elderly people. It was a persistent course of conduct.

“The age and medical conditions of the victims tells its own tale. To call it a business is a complete joke.”

A retired couple from Harrogate, who were victims of the Hootons’ fraud, said: “We were devastated anyone could treat vulnerable people in this way and be so dishonest.

“They defrauded us of £2,500 which we could not afford to lose. We felt very let down and our trust in people was damaged.”

A further victim, a disabled man living alone in the Harrogate area, said: “I think it is disgraceful that these individuals have taken advantage of disabled and vulnerable people such as myself.”

The case was investigated by North Yorkshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team based at the ~}County Council’s Trading Standards.

The team was established 18 months ago to target all forms of financial abuse of vulnerable adults, including doorstep crime, scam mail and other financial frauds.

Their investigation led to Bilton as it revealed the area was being repeatedly targeted by doorstep crime offenders including the Hootons.

More than 1,800 houses were included in the zone set up during the investigation.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “This case is an illustration of our determination to disrupt all offenders who set about deliberately defrauding the most vulnerable in our communities.

“We are absolutely committed to working effectively with our partners to protect our vulnerable residents from all forms of fraud. Any like-minded offenders should be aware that we will bring them to justice and this area of crime is being given the highest priority in North Yorkshire.”