Man who defrauded vulnerable residents in Summerbridge sent to jail

David Smith
David Smith

A man who defrauded more than £1000 from vulnerable victims of three households in Summerbridge has been sentenced to prison.

David Smith, 51, of Newton Road Bedworth Warwickshire, cold called the three houses in Summerbridge, near Harrogate, offering gardening services in November 2013.

Smith falsely claimed to represent a garden centre which was closing down and offered substantial discounts before taking payments in advance for services and products.

After performing a small amount of poor quality work, Smith did not return to deliver goods or complete the work which had already been paid for.

In one case Smith drove his victim to a cash machine so they could withdraw the money to pay him. In total Smith obtained £1247.00 through his fraud.

At Leeds Crown Court on October 20, Smith pleaded guilty to three charges of Fraud by False Representation and was sentenced to two years in prison.

All of the victims found Smith's demeanour to be friendly and convincing and police warned this behaviour was synonymous of criminals targeting vulnerable people.

Investigating officer, PC Bill Hickson of North Yorkshire Police, said: "They behave in a way which I think can be fairly described as wicked and merciless.

"They pretend to be friendly and charming when all the time they are intent on stealing hard earned money.

"I would urge all readers to beware of doorstep crime. While I do not want to brand all doorstep salesmen as potential criminals I think there are safer ways for consumers to buy products or services.

"This type of crime is rarely reported in Nidderdale but, as this case shows, it does happen."

PC Hickson revealed that the victims were 'unlikely' to receive any compensation but said the courts had the power to seize Smith's assets in a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

He also warned that victims in these cases often have a 'nagging feeling of doubt' but were too embarrassed to say anything.

"If this happens please share your doubts with someone; a trusted relative or friend, or the police," PC Hickson said.

Smith was first arrested for these crimes in April 2014. He was charged but later failed to answer bail for a court hearing in October 2014. He remained on the run for several months until he was re-arrested in April 2015. He has been in custody since then.