Heartless cowboy builder forced to pay back fleeced cash

First published in News

VICTIMS of a callous cowboy builder fromBidford who conned elderly and vulnerable people out of more than £400,000 are to get 68 per cent of their money back, thanks to the work of police financial investigators.

Sydney Fletcher, 42, of Friday Fulong had been jailed for nine years at Warwick Crown Court in 2012 for nine offences of defrauding people in south Warwickshire, Redditch and Walsall.

Among Fletcher's multiple victims was a devout Christian who he met on a car park in May 2011. Fletcher spun her a sob-story about his family having had their caravan stolen and she gave him a book she had written about her faith.

As a result he traced the 81-year-old to her home near Redditch, where she lived with her husband who was blind and had dementia.

After telling her she needed moss removing from her roof, he offered to do it for £2,500, and after she had paid him he claimed he had found a number of broken roof tiles.

He kept quoting for more and more work, up to a total of £82,000, and the pensioner was so trusting she even gave him £8,000 as a gift after he claimed he needed to replace his vehicle in order to continue working.

Other victims included a 64-year-old man who lived alone in a bungalow in Stratford where he needed an oxygen supply because of lung and heart problems and has since died, and a 68-year-old woman living near Alcester, who was suffering from cancer at the time and had been given just months to live.

Despite being made aware of this, Fletcher fleeced her and out of £9,000 she had put aside for her anticipated funeral.

Jailing Fletcher, Judge Marten Coates had told him: “Your targeting of these people was persistent and deliberate and merciless, and you sought in some circumstances to take their every last penny from them.”

Fletcher returned to crown court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act following lengthy enquiries by Warwickshire Police financial investigators.

Prosecutor Lal Amarasinghe asked for £274,519 of the money, which represents 68 per cent of what the victims lost, to be used to pay compensation to Fletcher’s victims, which the judge agreed.

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