Builder admits conning woman out of £120,000
A man has admitted conning an elderly woman out of almost £120,000 for poor building and gas work.
Jonathon Mills, 46, of Heathfield, Newton Abbot, overcharged his victim for work at her home, including work which was unnecessary and dangerous, Exeter Crown Court was told.
The work was only worth about £24,000, if completed, the court heard.
Mills admitted unfair trading and three counts of fraud. He is due to be sentenced in July.
Mills gained the trust of his victim after she contacted him having seen an advert.
He issued 40 invoices for a total of £119,722 over the next two years, the court heard.'Quite despicable'
A surveyor testifying for the prosecution told the court that, on one occasion, Mills charged more than £3,500 to build a small two-sided shed in her garden at the corner of her home.
Invoices showed some work had been charged for twice, the surveyor added.
Mills also carried out gas work, despite not being registered to do so - as required by law. That work was found to be dangerous, the court was told.
Devon and Somerset Trading Standards officers, who described Mills as "quite despicable", said they began an investigation after the victim's family found her bank account empty.
The investigation was supported by Devon and Cornwall Police and the South West Trading Standards Scambuster Team.
Speaking after the trial, Councillor Roger Croad, from Devon County Council, said Mills' "level of dishonesty and the appalling abuse of trust involved in this case is truly shocking".
He said: "Mr Mills is a skilled conman and an accomplished liar who deliberately targeted a vulnerable widow, befriending her and gaining her trust.
"He then took advantage of that friendship for his own gains until her money ran out."
Mills refused to comment after leaving court.
He was jailed in 2001 for three years for similar offences after conning a couple in Paignton out of £190,000, the court heard.