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despicable Two Irishmen intimidated pensioners into paying for work never carried out, court hears

Thomas Lawrence and Paddy O’Brien, who have addresses in the UK but spoke with Irish accents, targeted victims in their 80s and 90s

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Thomas Lawrence. Image: South Wales Police

Thomas Lawrence. Image: South Wales Police

Thomas Lawrence. Image: South Wales Police

Two Irishmen intimidated elderly people including a 93-year-old blind woman with dementia into handing over their savings for roofing work they never carried out, a court in Wales has heard.

Thomas Lawrence and Paddy O’Brien, who have addresses in the UK but spoke with Irish accents, targeted victims in their 80s and 90s demanding hundreds of pounds from each victim in their mini crime wave in Swansea on January 7 this year.

Lawrence, (27), with an address in Sunny Bank, St George, Bristol, was sentenced to 15 months but will only have to served half of his sentence before being released on licence, while O’Brien (19), with an address at of Wentloog Road, Trowbridge, Cardiff was given a 10 month sentence which was suspended in full when the pair pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Swansea Crown Court this week.

A judge described their behaviour as “cynical and despicable” after the court heard how the men targeted elderly people claiming to have replaced damaged tiles on their homes and demanded payment which in one case was £1,850.

One of the victims said O’Brien became “quite aggressive” while demanding payment, Walesonline reported.

One of the victims, a 93-year-old woman who was registered blind and suffered with dementia, hearing loss and mobility issue has been left frightened in her own home after the incident.

The court heard the men knocked on the door and demanded money for bogus work before they entered her home and closed the door behind them while continuing to make demands.

She was left so frightened she handed over all she had in her purse which was £40.

Her son gave a victim impact statement saying she remembered two strangers in her home and has been left feeling frightened in her own home. He said he has noticed a deterioration in her health since the incident.

He said his mother should feel safe and secure in her own home and described the men as “despicable”.

A postman who saw the two men on the street around the time of that incident said that when they were talking between themselves they spoke with Irish accents but tried to disguise the fact when they spoke to other people.

The men were arrested the next day when police stopped a van in Wales.

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O’Brien’s fingerprints were found on receipts he had given the victims for the “work” he claimed to have carried out.

The court heard Lawrence has 19 previous convictions for 31 offences including criminal damage, making off without payment, burglary, dangerous driving, and fraud. O'Brien has one previous conviction for theft.

Lawrence defence lawyer Ashanti-Jade Walton said he was father-of-two with a third child on the way.

She said he was a member of the Traveller community who had a “difficult” time growing up and was “ashamed and remorseful” for targeting the elderly victims.

O’Brien’s lawyer said her client accepted his behaviour on the day had been “dreadful”.

She said he was a member of the Traveller community who had left school at 11 and was “easily led”.

Recorder Aidan Eardley said the men had deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable people in their homes and described their offending as a "cynical and despicable course of conduct".

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