A gang who conned OAPs out of their life savings have been ordered to pay more than £250,000 in compensation to their victims.

City pensioner Winifred Owen, in her 80s, was among those tricked out of almost £950,000 by the gang, whose leading members were sent to prison in 2012.

Most of the cash was extracted by persuading the victims to hand over their life savings for unnecessary building work but in other cases it was fraud or theft.

Salesman Paul Regrette Williams, 51, conned Mrs Owen, of Great Boughton, into providing her signature which he then used to forge a cheque stolen from her handbag as she made him a drink.

Paul Regrette Williams
Paul Regrette Williams

Williams, formerly of Tranmere but now living in Muirkirk Road, London, withdrew £14,750 from Mrs Owen's account and £7,840 from the account of pensioner Beatrice Price, from Hooton, using forged stolen cheques.

Judge Mr Recorder Mark Ainsworth, presiding over the proceeds of crime case at Warrington Crown Court, ordered Williams, previously handed an 18 months' jail term, to pay £3,110 compensation based on the amount now available. Williams was not present.

By far the largest fraud was against retired GP Dr Peter Grant, in his 60s, who was charged £532,000 for building work on two properties in Prenton and Liverpool estimated to be worth just £65,000.

Dr Grant's sister, who has learning difficulties, had lived with their mother until her death when she went to live in supported accommodation.

The retired GP knew one or both of the houses had to be sold, and both required some work to make them presentable.

Neil Jones, 39, Dibbons Hey, Spital approached him portraying himself as connected with an estate agent.

Neil Andrew Jones
Neil Andrew Jones

Jones steered building work towards his own company and persuaded Dr Grant to accept a lower asking price on a house sale with co-conspirator Nicola Sweeney, who unknown to Dr Grant, was the wife of one of the men doing the work. The undervalue on the house was estimated to be at least £40,000.

The court also heard the late Beatrice Price, 80, of Hooton, whose mental state was failing, was fleeced of £57,000 for minor repair work worth just £1,300.

While purporting to help Mrs Price with her banking, Jones was actually transferring additional funds into her current account so the defendants could steal even more.

The case had increased the strain on Mrs Price who had to move into a care home and later died.

Jones and Kevin Sweeney, 39, of Druids Cross Road, Liverpool, who had each admitted three counts of conspiracy to defraud £534,535, were previously jailed for four and four-and-half years respectively.

Kevin Sweeney
Kevin Sweeney

Jones was estimated to have benefited to the tune of £189,589 but a confiscation order, determined at an earlier hearing, was made for £27,275 based on funds available, split between Dr Grant, his sister Jane Goldstone and the estate of the late Mrs Price.

Sweeney, who remains in prison but attended today's court hearing, was judged to have benefited by £341,962 but ordered to pay £153,499 to the same victims.

His wife Nicola, 38, received a suspended jail sentence, after pleading guilty to money laundering to the value of £57,000. Also in court today, she was judged to have benefited by £220,687 as a result of criminal conduct but ordered to pay £57,000 to Dr Grant in line with her conviction.

Co-accused Mark Dodd, 51, of Booker Avenue, Liverpool, present in court, was estimated to have benefited to the tune of £174,439 but ordered to pay compensation of £13,750 to Dr Grant and his sister based on the availability of assets.

Mark Ricardo Dodd
Mark Ricardo Dodd

He was previously found guilty of conspiracy to defraud £445,000 following a trial and jailed for five years, with eight months left to serve.