A rogue trader, who targeted a pensioner who was distracted caring for his dementia-stricken wife, has been jailed for six years.
Victim John Livesey, 81, complained to police after conman George Beveridge kept revisiting their home in Ingol, Preston.
Beveridge approached Mr Livesey and said he would charge him £35 to replace a loose slate, which he agreed to. However, he then claimed Mr Livesey needed further roofing work to the tune of £6,500.
An independent surveyor later ruled the work would have only cost £350. At the time, Mr Livesey says the fraudster, who went by the name ‘Ernie’, knew about his wife Rose, 79, and her illness, which has left her unable to recognise people, but kept turning up demanding cash to ‘pay staff’ or ‘buy materials’.
Ruthless Beveridge, 34, of HMP Preston, was jailed for six years at Preston’s Sessions House Court after admitting a string of frauds, including fleecing another pensioner out of almost £58,000.
The case marks the latest tragedy for retired BAe worker Mr Livesey, after he lost his son Timothy in 1990, and his first wife in 2003.
I was distracted caring for Rose, and just agreed to the work.Mr Livesey
He married Rose nine years ago after meeting her at Ingol Methodist church, but she fell ill 18 months ago.
Today the father-of-two, who runs an art group in Ingol, said: “It has got me really angry.
“I felt sick when I realised I had been conned, and thought how did I fall for that?
“I was distracted caring for Rose, and just agreed to the work. “He knew I was vulnerable. I realised I had been conned when another reputable company came to do some work and pointed out he had left roof materials around. I told them he was called Ernie and kept asking for money – they told me they had heard of him and to ring the police straight away.”
Beveridge also swindled 79-year-old Cecily Pickles, from Lancaster, out of a staggering £57,800 for work that would have cost a maximum of £6,000, Preston’s Sessions House Court heard.
Prosecuting, Andrew Long said in January 2013, Beveridge had knocked on her door and offered to do flagging work – which she agreed to pay £12,000 for.
Over a course of four months he convinced her she needed roofing work, even though she had no problems with the roof. He said: “The work carried out was to spray slates with a protective spray that does not exist and a chemical treatment in the loft.”
Mr Long told the court, on another occasion, aided by his cousin Adam Burke, 34, of White Lund Road, Morecambe, Beveridge targeted 86-year-old Eric Smith from Caton, near Lancaster.
He said: “Mr Smith had phoned Beveridge’s company out of the Yellow Pages about a leak. He was told it would cost £20,000 which he agreed to pay. He was persuaded to agree to more work, including new lintles and pebble dashing, and so it was that between November 2013 and April 2014, Mr Smith handed over £84,928. A surveyor reported the work was sub-standard and incomplete and should have cost a maximum of £12,000.”
Defending Beveridge, Nick Courtney said he “accepted from the outset he did it for the money” because he was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
Defending Burke, Lisa Roberts QC said his guilty plea had saved a victim from giving evidence. She added he had “entered the enterprise” when the agreement was already up and running. Beveridge admitted four counts of fraud by false representation and had one taken into consideration, while Burke admitted one count.
Judge Simon Newell jailed Burke for one year.