Criminals who target the elderly and vulnerable in Chester have been handed another stark lesson from council Trading Standard Officers and the courts.

Two men who conned more than £15,000 from four female victims at Elton’s Orchard Park residential site were given a total of over four years imprisonment when they appeared at Warrington Crown Court.

Timothy James, 25, of Gladstone Street, Mansfield and Leonard Gaskin, 29, of The Bungalow, Tolney Lane Newark, both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and were sentenced to 29 months and 24 months imprisonment respectively.

Leonard Gaskin, 29, of The Bungalow, Tolney Lane, Newark, was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud
 

In February, the leader of the gang, William King, 35, of Tolney Lane, Newark, was jailed for six years for conning more than £100,000 from victims across the country – including Chester.

And only last week, in a separate case, doorstep trader, Michael Heron, of Cranleigh, Surrey, who swindled two Chester residents out of £23,000-plus by grossly overcharging for building work, was jailed for five years at Chester Crown Court.

And on Monday, June 23 Councillor Lynn Riley, executive member, localities said: “Preying on the elderly and vulnerable is a despicable offence and this authority will take every action available to us to punish those responsible.

“I would like to congratulate our officers on their vigilance and efficiency and repeat our advice to members of the public to say no to doorstep callers. If you need work to be carried out always seek recommendations from friends or family and obtain two or three written quotes.”

Councillor Mark Henesy, opposition spokesman for localities: “The success of our trading standards officers will serve as a reassurance to our communities – and a warning to those who would exploit the elderly.”

Sentencing the defendants, Recorder Michael Blakey told the defendant that they and King had defrauded people – vulnerable due to their age – both by persuasion and in some cases, intimidation.

In some cases they had intimidated victims to make them part with money for work purportedly carried out, or not carried out.

Money had been taken from individuals who could ill afford the expense and those ‘ill-gotten gains’ had been used by Gaskin to fund a drug habit.

“You abused the trust of the elderly” said the recorder. “The elderly in our society should be protected.”

The court heard that James had a previous conviction for common assault and warnings for drug offences and Gaskin for theft, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage.

An accomplice, Fiona Edwards, 40, of Wilberforce Road, Doncaster, who cashed a cheque from one of the victims pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to a community order of 100 hours of unpaid work, and a £60 statutory victim surcharge.

Fiona Edwards, 40, of Wilberforce Road, Doncaster, who cashed a cheque from one of the victims, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to a community order of 100 hours of unpaid work, and a £60 statutory victim surcharge
 

The judge told her: “The other people involved have effectively been stealing from elderly people for bogus jobs and a phenomenal amount of money –it is an incredibly mean offence and thoroughly dishonest.”