York & North Yorkshire

Conmen who preyed on elderly in North Yorkshire jailed

Ryan Lowe, left, and Stephen Wood
Image caption Lowe and Wood were caught following checks of a victim's bank account

Two men have been jailed for conning elderly people with dementia out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Ryan Lowe and Stephen Wood grossly overcharged for repair and gardening work, most of which was never carried out, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The men, members of a travelling family based in West Yorkshire, toured North Yorkshire identifying elderly people living alone, the court was told.

They both pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering.

Lowe, 21, of Spring Lane, Wetherby, was jailed for three years and Wood, 30, already in prison for similar offences, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

'Priceless loss'

One victim, an 88-year-old widower from Haxby, near York, was charged £72,000 for work which was never carried out.

Kathleen Gardner, an 84-year-old widow from Thornton-le-Dale, was charged more than £6,000 for botched repairs to roof tiles which should have cost just £30.

Image caption Kathleen Gardner now lives in a care home

North Yorkshire County Council's Trading Standards team started an investigation after being contacted by Mrs Gardner's nephew, Michael Hall.

Mr Hall reported that she had called him in a distressed state after she was confronted by men demanding money for roofing work.

Checks on her bank account later revealed she had paid three cheques to Lowe.

Following the sentencing, Mr Hall said his aunt had not returned to her house since the day she called him and now lives in a care home.

"Overnight she lost everything that was dear to her, her home and garden, her friends and neighbours, her village and familiar environment," he said.

"I feel desperately sad for the priceless loss she has suffered."

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