Wales

Bogus Cardiff builders jailed for £71k elderly people con

James and Jeffrey Tawse
Image caption James and Jeffrey Tawse arrive at Cardiff Crown Court

A father and son posing as builders conned elderly and vulnerable people out of £71,000, a court heard.

Jeffrey Tawse, 52 and son James, 25, from Cardiff, charged one disabled man, 71, £64,500 to build a garden wall.

They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at the city's crown court after conning 15 people, aged 50 to 97.

Jeffrey Tawse, who also admitted money laundering was given six years and his son two years.

The pair operated across south Wales from Monmouthshire to Carmarthenshire using "aggressive sales tactics" to "intimidate" victims, the court heard.

One victim was a 71-year-old man who has short term memory loss after suffering a brain injury in a cycling accident.

The pair charged him £64,500 for a three-course brick wall around his front lawn, with police alerted after the victim withdrew £100,000 from his bank.

A chartered surveyor described their work as "truly appalling", saying it should have cost £600, but recommended the wall be demolished.

Image copyright South Wales Police

They offered other services, such as applying "weed proof sand" to driveways, but merely sprayed them with "sealant" that was salt water.

The court heard one victim said she did not want any work done but they began tending her driveway and demanded money.

In another case, they charged an 83-year-old woman £1,450 to repair her roof, but carried out no work on it at all.

In sentencing the pair, Judge David Wynn Morgan said: "You identify and prey on the vulnerable in the community in a deliberate, consistent, cold blooded way."

Image caption A "truly appalling" wall should have cost about £600 but a victim paid more than £64,000

Scambuster Wales - a specialist team set up by Trading Standards - carried out a two-year investigation into the pair.

Team leader Andrew Bertie said he was "shocked" by what they discovered, describing their actions as "inexcusable".

Chairman of National Trading Standards, Lord Toby Harris, said the sentences "send out a clear message" to people who try to deceive people in "vulnerable situations".

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