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Man defrauded 87-year-old out of €175k

Man defrauded 87-year-old out of €175k

A rogue trader who "preyed" on his 87-year-old victim and defrauded him out of nearly £150,000 has been jailed for three years.

Robert Stewart, 21, was found guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of bogus workman offences.

The court heard Stewart went to his victim's home in Priestfield Road, Edinburgh, in December 2015 and offered to repair a television antenna.

He told the homeowner the roof needed extensive work, which his company Abbey Building & Roofing could carry out.

The 87-year-old agreed to the maintenance and made several online payments to the firm totalling £147,460 (€174k)  between December 2015 and March 2016.

Staff at the victim's bank became suspicious at the payments and contacted police.

During the investigation, officers arranged for two independent surveys on the house and found the work carried out was inferior and valued at far less than the fee charged.

Detectives linked the payments to an account held by Stewart, leading to his arrest and charge in April. He was found guilty after trial and sentenced on Thursday.

Detective Sergeant Gary Reid said: "Robert Stewart preyed on an elderly man and was able to extort a large sum of money for work that was sub-par and nowhere near the valuation of such repairs.

"After bank staff observed a pattern in the victim's payments they became suspicious and reported their concerns to police.

"We then launched a robust investigation alongside the City of Edinburgh Council's Trading Standards department, resulting in Stewart being charged with bogus workmen offences.

"His sentence should send a clear message that we will continue to work closely with our partners to actively pursue those involved in crimes of this nature to bring them to justice.

"I would like to take this opportunity to remind our communities never to allow unsolicited work to be carried out on your home or property, and to always use individuals or companies you know or trust.

"In addition, family, friends and neighbours of vulnerable people are asked to be vigilant for any suspicious or unusual activity around their homes and report any concerns they have to police."