A ROGUE builder who fleeced 17 elderly people out of more than £105,000 has been jailed for nine years.
The full extent of Paul Gaffney’s deception was revealed at Portsmouth Crown Court today.
The 51-year-old cold called people in the roads around his Park Grove home in Cosham, Including his next door neighbour.
He would tell them their roofs needed fixing and worm his way into their lives demanding more and more cash for non-existent or shoddy jobs to fund his gambling habit.
The court heard that in some cases he would drive his elderly victims – some in their 90s – to banks to withdraw large sums of cash.
One victim, retired architect Peter Bolt, handed over £35,000 for work that was never carried out at his home in Delamere Road, Southsea.
In victim impact statements victims repeatedly spoke of feeling humiliated and embarrassed by the fraud.
Some lost their life savings paying Gaffney then shelling out to put his botched work right.
Gaffney admitted 20 charges.
Victims applauded the sentence.
Roger Sandford, of Knowsley Road, Cosham, said: ‘Justice has been done.
‘He has got what he deserves. This is a huge weight off our shoulders.’
Gaffney was brought to justice thanks to a year-long investigation led by Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Police after ripping off 18 residents.
City council investigators said Gaffney had no qualms about ripping off elderly residents for falsely or improperly done home repairs and even bullied some elderly customers, accompanying them to their banks to withdraw his payment.
Cllr Robert New, the council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, said: ‘We are very pleased that the joint operation between the Hampshire police and Portsmouth City Council’s trading standards service into the activities of Paul Gaffney has succeeded in bringing him to justice.
‘His rogue actions as a tradesman defrauded local residents - many of them vulnerable, older residents - out of more than £100,000 and put their safety at risk with shoddy or fraudulent work on their boilers, electrics and roofs.
‘The council’s trading standards service is committed to ensuring the safety of consumers in Portsmouth and will continue to work alone or in partnership with the police to carry out similar investigations where consumer harm or detriment is established.
Hampshire Police investigating officer Detective Constable Andy Larder said: ‘Paul Gaffney targeted vulnerable members of our community, convincing them to pay money for substandard and faulty work. He went out of his way to ensure they paid him, even offering to drive them to the bank.
‘The result of this joint investigation demonstrates that we take this type of crime very seriously and will do all we can to protect residents from this activity. We would continue to encourage anyone who is unsure about a door-to-door caller not to hand over any money or allow the person into their home. A genuine caller will be happy to wait while you verify their identity with their company. Please do not hesitate to report concerns by calling 101.’
The council and police today advised people residents to get a second opinion on contractors by visiting www.portsmouthsquaredeal.co.uk for a list of approved traders.
A council spokesman added: ‘The trading standards service is committed to ensuring that criminals and rogue traders don’t benefit financially from their unacceptable behaviour and illegal activity, and it will now lead the restitution process that will seek to compensate the victims.’