A cowboy builder who fleeced vulnerable people in Watford and Ealing will be sentenced once his victims have been paid back.
Patrick O’Brien, 26, and others had gone to the home of an 81-year-old man in Watford in February 2017 and told him that they would repair his “leaning chimney pot,” St Albans Crown Court heard today (Wednesday, January 20).
Prosecutor Douglas Page said O’Brien at first told the victim he would do it for a “drink” or £20 or £30. But he presented the man with an invoice for £1,150. The victim withdrew £1,100 and handed it over to O’Brien.
Six days later, on February 27, O’Brien returned and said further work was required and asked for a further £1,400. The victim called his daughter who alerted the police, and the second amount was not paid.
On February 22 that year, O’Brien told a 67-year-old Watford woman he would repair her chimney for £350. She ended up withdrawing £2,000 for him. No work was done.
Mr Page said that on March 7, he offered to clean out the gutter of a woman in Ealing for £20, but later he told her it would cost £600. She went to the bank and gave him the money.
O’Brien returned to her home and said more work was needed. He tried to swindle another £3,300 from her. The victim went to her bank to withdraw more cash, but the teller was suspicious and the police were called.
Mr Page said: “These were all high impact crimes. The victims were particularly vulnerable.”
O’Brien, of no fixed address, appeared for sentence having admitted three charges of fraud by false representation.
Defending, Philip Misner said that O’Brien’s uncle would repay the victims. He said: “We have been writing to the crown since October but have not been provided with the details. The funds from his uncle are keen. I am frustrated with the way the Crown has behaved.”
Judge Richard Foster said: “I won’t sentence until the money is paid. I make an order that the crown gives the court and the defence the details of the losers. When it has been paid it will provide forceful mitigation.”