Potters Bar cowboy builders caged

TWO crooks from Potters Bar have been caged for conning thousands of pounds from vulnerable elderly people.

Patrick O’Driscoll, 36, of Brookes Place, Barnet Road, and James Casey, 30, also of Brookes Place, were sentenced along with other gang members yesterday (Tuesday), at Maidstone Crown Court, for the scam in which they persuaded victims to hand over cash for unnecessary building work to their homes.

The conmen targeted elderly people across London, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire, lying by telling them they needed urgent and expensive repair work.

The cowboy builders were arrested after undercover cops caught the men targeting a 79-year-old woman in central London.

Police said the men had deliberately damaged her property and then claimed she needed �10,000-worth of repairs to brickwork and guttering.

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The callous con artists told the pensioner a parapet wall was in a dangerous state and that masonry could fall into the street and kill someone.

Another ruse saw them intimidate a 63-year-old man, talking him into agreeing to have his driveway re-laid.

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O’Driscoll then tried to persuade the man to have an external wall damp survey, telling him it was a legal requirement and if he did not have the work done his boss would take legal action against him.

The gang of four were arrested in April by the Metropolitan London Crime Squad in a joint operation with Trading Standards’ Regional Fraud Unit, Scambusters.

All four admitted two counts of fraud by false representation. O’Driscoll was jailed for two and a half years, and Casey two years.

The other gang members; Peter Gilheney, 27, of Romford, was jailed for seven years, and Francis Dunne, 24, of Willesden, was locked up for two years.

DI John Cracknell, from the London Crime Squad (North), said: “These sentences show that preying on vulnerable members of the community will not be tolerated.”

John Peerless, Project Manager for Scambusters added: “This is an excellent example of joint working. My team were formed to tackle these types of crime, primarily supporting Local Authority Trading Standards Services but because of the overlap in responsibilities have formed extensive relationships with the police.”

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