Rogue trader conned pensioners out of £34,000 for 'unnecessary' roofing works

A ‘DESPICABLE’ rogue trader conned pensioner neighbours out of nearly £34,000 for 'completely unnecessary' roofing work.

By Ben Fishwick
Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 5:08 pm
John Goodwin
John Goodwin

Fraudster John Goodwin took £33,900 from three elderly couples in Portsmouth, including a pensioner with cancer and a visually-impaired 92-year-old man, after telling them they needed roofing work claiming he had seen leaks.

Now he has been banned from cold calling for 10 years by a judge who jailed him for two years and nine months.

Sentencing, Recorder Simon Foster said: ‘The impact on elderly people from offences like these make them particularly despicable. There’s no doubt that you prey on the elderly for your own ends.’

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John Goodwin

Trading Standards, who prosecuted the case, investigated and forced Goodwin to pay back all the cash, with the judge ordering him to pay £10,000 costs.

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Portsmouth Crown Court heard married couple John and cancer patient Barbara Dewing, 92 and 86, paid over £10,300 they had saved for their own funerals after their deaths.

They were cold-called by 45-year-old Goodwin, of Watling Street, Hinckley in Leicestershire, who was wearing a top with a Checkatrade logo on when he knocked at their home in Milton. He had been chucked out of Checkatrade a week before.

John Dewing and his wife Barbara Dewing, 92 and 86; Michael Hatch and his wife Ellen Hatch, 80 and 78, with their son-in-law 64-year-old Trevor Hallett. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

He offered to do roof work for £9,000 - and a dormer for £1,300. None of the work was needed, prosecutor Malcolm Gibney told the court.

Visually impaired Mr Dewing was unable to check the work but the alarm was raised by Citizens’ Advice to Portsmouth City Council’s Trading Standards.

Goodwin, who operated Diamond Roofing Services Ltd, went on to fleece the Dewings’ neighbours, married couple Michael Hatch and cancer patient Ellen Hatch, 80 and 78, who paid up £14,100.

Paint poured onto a 'redone' roof. Photographs show the work carried out by John Goodwin at pensioners' homes in Portsmouth. Pictures: Portsmouth City Council

After court they said they were pleased to have ‘justice’ after the crimes in July and September 2017.

The defendant ‘informed them that they had broken tiles’ and needed repair work that he could do as he was ‘in the area’. He quoted £9,000 for the roof and £3,000 for the dormer. They paid a deposit twice so forked out more.

Experts inspected the roof and found ‘there was no need for those works to be done at all, it was completely unnecessary,’ Mr Gibney said.

A third couple, in Cosham, Jacqueline Pratt and her husband Frederick Pratt, 72 and 84, paid £9,500 for a fibreglass roof on a shed and redo the roof.

Photographs show the work carried out by John Goodwin at pensioners' homes in Portsmouth. Pictures: Portsmouth City Council

Goodwin claimed the roof needed doing after seeing a ‘leak’ in the downstairs toilet ceiling which he used while doing work on the shed.

Prosecutor Mr Gibney said it was ‘not ordinary cold calling’ but was ‘targeting vulnerable invariably people of significantly older than pensionable age living, in all cases, bungalow accommodation obviously not requiring scaffolding’ so the work could not be checked.

Trevor Hallett, 64, is the son-in-law of the Hatch couple and watched as Goodwin was jailed.

Speaking after Goodwin was jailed, he said: ‘The damage that he’s done to my mother and father-in-law, and it’s hard to explain, he’s upset OAPs, which I don’t like very much, taken money dishonestly from them and not doing the job that he should have, and for extortionate prices.’

He added: ‘I can’t thank Trading Standards more.’

Goodwin admitted six charges of fraud. A criminal behaviour order bans him from cold calling for 10 years along with a series of tight rules on his business operation.

A case against Goodwin’s son was dropped as he could not be found, and Goodwin repaid the cash.

Jeffrey Lamb, for Goodwin, said he was a ‘hard-working man’ and added: ‘This is something out of the ordinary.’ He submitted customer testimonials to the judge.

After court council cabinet member for community safety Lee Hunt said: ‘It shows that the city council and Trading Standards are working with all sorts of enforcement agencies and we will continue to safeguard our community.’