A rogue tradesman has been jailed for 18 months for conning vulnerable pensioners into handing over thousands of pounds for shoddy repairs.
Roofer Steven Lee Snr, 52, of Rosemary Lane, Bartle, near Preston, targeted elderly people on their doorsteps, just weeks after being released from jail for similar offences.
The father-of-five is now beginning one of the longest prison sentences Lancashire Trading Standards has ever secured for a bogus workman, after admitting knowingly participating in a fraudulent business, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006. He must also pay £18,000 compensation.
Today, some of his victims spoke to the Evening Post about the impact of his crimes.
Pensioner Judith Hughes, from Fulwood, Preston gave Lee £2,200 for work that was never completed. She said: “He was a bully boy; in the end I was afraid of him, afraid he would come back and do something to the house.”
Great-grandfather Mike Lane, 76, handed over £2,700 for unfinished work. He also described Lee as a “bully”.
Preston Crown Court heard Lee had targeted people between August 2013 and 2014, including victims in Fulwood and St Annes and a 90-year-old man in Ormskirk.
Prosecuting, David Traynor said: “The defendant and his son both worked as roofers under the names ‘Skyline Roof Contractors’ and ‘Prestige’.
“In essence, the businesses was engaged in cold calling on consumers and when they got the opportunity they would either do unnecessary work or vastly overcharge for work.
He described how an 84-year-old man had paid Lee £3,800 when no more than £200 of work had been carried out. A retired couple in Bolton were told they needed work on the capping on their roof – but were left with it hanging off.
And an elderly woman in a bungalow was told her roof capping, which was only one year old, needed replacing at a cost of £5,000.
Jailing Lee for 18 months, the judge ordered Lee to pay a total of £18,570 compensation and a £100 surcharge.
Pensioner Judith Hughes was one of Lee’s seven latest known victims.
The Fulwood grandmother, 62, was frightened when bolshy Lee banged loudly on her door and barged into her lounge. When the retired teacher asked him to step back outside he replied: “Don’t be stupid, I’m not going to rape you.”
But what he did do was defraud her of £2,200 for the work, which he never finished.
The grandmother-of-two said: “He was a bully boy, in the end I was afraid of him, afraid he would come back and do something to the house.”
She initially told them the £2,200 they quoted to replace plastic fascias was too much and the cost was lowered to £1,700 – but they then said £500 was needed to replace roof felt. When they demanded cash, she said she could only withdraw £300 at a time. Lee senior sniggered and said, ‘That’s not enough by far’.
Great-grandfather Mike Lane, 76, also of Fulwood, paid £2,700 for incomplete fascia and soffit work, and a further £1,600 to make good the damage they had caused to his roof tiles, and complete the guttering they never finished.
Today he told the Evening Post: “They left us unable to open our windows. They demanded I pay cash and would not accept a cheque despite the amount. “His general attitude was of a bully.”
Steven Lee Jr, of the same address, signed a legal undertaking, under the Enterprise Act 2002 as to his future behaviour, and the prosecution did not seek to proceed with the charge against him.