St Ives man who conned elderly victims out of hundreds of pounds is jailed

Gary James

Gary James - Credit: Archant

A St Ives man who preyed on elderly victims by fraudulently charging them for work has been jailed for nine months

A St Ives man who preyed on elderly victims by fraudulently charging them for work has been jailed for nine months

Gary James, 42, of Shakespeare Road, was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court, on Friday, for three counts of fraud by false representation.

He was sentenced to three months for each count to run consecutively, made subject of a criminal behaviour order and also made to pay a victim surcharge of £116.

On May 28, James visited the first victim’s home address in Chaucer Way, St Ives, to discuss some gardening work.

It was agreed that James would carry out the work for £350 and was given £20 upfront for equipment hire with work beginning the next day.

However, he turned up the next day (May 29) without any tools insisting a friend was turning up shortly with the required equipment. His friend eventually turned up with a single spade.

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James said he needed the other £330 to carry out the work but the victim refused this amount, they later agreed on a fee of £140 to be paid then and the rest to be paid upon completion.

After receiving the £140 from the victim, James and his friend never returned to finish the work.

On June 10, James approached another victim, a woman in her 80s at her home address in Greengarth, St Ives, and offered her his gardening services.

After agreeing the work, he demanded an initial cash payment of £30 as a deposit and the total cost of the work was agreed to be £300.

On several occasions he failed to show up and carry out the agreed work, when he did turn up he demanded cash payments for supplies for her garden. Another £150 was agreed due James needing specialist help to dispose of the trees due to their condition.

A concerned neighbour contacted the police and after a visit from a local PCSO, it was deemed that the work carried out wasn’t worth the £450 that he had been paid.

On June 28, James approached an elderly couple at their home address in Ambury Road, Huntingdon, stating he was a sub-contractor for housing provider Luminus and was there to carry out work on their garden.

Over the next few days he demanded more cash payments totalling £750 for garden supplies, on one occasion he took a taxi to a cash machine with one of the victims in order to be paid.

After contacting Luminus it was discovered that James wasn’t working on their behalf and the police were contacted.

Detective Constable Neil Patrick said: “James is a prolific offender who deliberately targeted the elderly and vulnerable.

“Safeguarding the vulnerable is a force objective and we will do everything in our power to ensure we protect them.”

James’ five year criminal behaviour order that states he must: Provide written quotations and ensure that customers are aware of their rights to cancel. This right must be given in writing and must be clearly understood, and maintain a full list of all of the customers he where he has carried out work.