The leader of a gang that ruthlessly exploited elderly and vulnerable pensioners in the Chester area has been jailed for six years.

William King, 35, of Tolney Lane, Newark – a Travellers’ site – was one of two men who conned more than £100,000 from victims across the country.

At York Crown Court, King, said to be ‘boss’ of a company called Coral Park Homes, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud by false representation and conspiracy to defraud.

Four victims – all female – at Orchard Park residential site, Elton, paid out a total of £15,600 for roofing and property maintenance work that was either not done or needed.

In one case work was done against the 80-year-old victim’s wishes and King followed her to the bank to collect £400 in cash for roofing work later valued by an independent surveyor at just £29.

Another victim was asked to pay £2,000 up front for chimney repairs and a further £8,700 by cheque for the replacement of plastic fascia around her mobile home. But on inspection, it was revealed that no work at all had been done to the chimney and work to the UPVC fascia was costed at £376.48.

Both victims had felt threatened and intimidated and one had been asked to climb a ladder to inspect the work.

When told that she was in no fit state to climb a ladder a member of the gang replied that she would have to accept his word that the work had been carried out as promised.

Another victim, also in her eighties, was told by King that the nails on her roof were loose and it would cost £800 to repair – the accused had dropped the price to £500 when the pensioner had said she could not afford the price. The minimal work done was valued at £40.

Meanwhile, a fourth paid out £4,000 in cash – King told her he would prefer cash because he would have to pay VAT on a cheque – because she had been told that rain water would get into her home and would get worse with time. The work was independently costed at £457.60.

The case was the culmination of 12 months of investigations by Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards Officers in the Chester area and by police and other trading standards officers elsewhere in the country.

Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for localities, said: “Targeting the elderly and vulnerable and taking advantage of their trust is a truly despicable crime. I would like to thank our trading standards officer for some first class work in bringing those responsible to justice.

“We advise that members of the public should always say no to doorstep callers, if you need work to be carried out always seek recommendations from friends or family and obtain two of three written quotes.

“It is important to remain vigilant including looking out for friends and neighbours. To report doorstep callers or request advice and assistance call 08454 04 05 06.”

Two men who have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud in connection with this case will appear for sentence at Chester Crown Court on June 20.