Two Knaresborough brothers have been jailed for a total of three and a half years for their part in a £340,000 fraud against elderly and vulnerable people.
The case has been described as the “worst example of repeat victimisation” North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards has seen.
Monty Croke Jnr, 26, of Thistle Hill Caravan Park, was jailed for two and a half years and his brother Billy Croke, also of Thistle Hill Caravan Park, was jailed for 12 months at Teeside Crown Court yesterday (Thursday).
The brothers – along with their father, Monty David Croke, 46, of Pickering and James Paul Coverdale, 35, of Pickering – pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud householders in relation to shoddy, over-priced and unnecessary property repairs.
The cowboy builders repeatedly defrauded elderly and vulnerable victims, some with dementia. One victim, a vulnerable man from the Malton area, was defrauded of £250,000 over an eight-year period. Two of the gang’s victims were elderly females living in the Harrogate area who were both conned out of more than £2,500.
Sentencing the men, Judge Anthony Briggs said: “The elderly and vulnerable are a growing part of our community and frequently have valuable assets which are attractive to the ruthless and greedy.
“The wrong-doing spanned a considerable period of time.”
The judge said that Monty David Croke had effectively stripped the Malton victim of his available assets and had “played him in a cunning and devious way.”
Following the sentencing hearing, county Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for Trading Standards, said: “We are sadly getting used to investigating cases of this nature in trading standards. But this case has been shocking and distressing, even to those of us who are hardened to this type of appalling and heartless crime.
“That offenders such as these can undertake the ruthless exploitation of vulnerable adults in this way, often for prolonged periods, is disgusting and abhorrent.
“They should be aware that we are utterly committed to bringing them to justice.”
Despite being charged with serious offences in May 2013, the three Crokes went on to defraud further victims and admitted three counts of contempt of court after breaching Proceeds of Crime Restraint Orders freezing their assets.
The four men were sentenced to a total of ten years’ imprisonment, with the brothers’ father Monty David Croke being jailed for five years. James Paul Coverdale was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for two years.