Brother wants Cleere family name name
Patrick Cleere behind bars for a home repair con that targeted the elderly and vulnerable
THE brother of a Tipperary man serving time for a st£500,000 home repair scam targeting elderly people claims he is innocent and was tricked into acting as a "money mule".
Last year Patrick Cleere got a nine-year jail sentence in the UK for conspiracy to defraud after a six-week trial in London.
The 66-year-old, who according to his brother John has terminal cancer, has maintained his innocence and is now pinning his hopes on being released on compassionate grounds.
Another brother William and their cousin Timothy Cleere pleaded guilty to money laundering and have both since completed their sentences.
But John said that the real culprits behind the scam duped his relatives, originally from Tipperary, into acting as money mules.
"They are innocent of taking money from old people, of giving out leaflets, approaching old people conning them out of money, taking roofs off and not putting them back on.
"That was all done by other people," John told the Sunday World this week.
He said that the real criminals got away scot-free and that his brother Patrick was mistakenly depicted as the ringleader in the scam.
"They pinned it straight on him," he said.
"He is serving a sentence of nine years for something he did not commit. He was never on a roof in his life. He wouldn't know any of these places that were mentioned," asserted John
He claimed the men who carried out the work in north London and the surrounding region were working for a completely different group of Irish men.
However, he admitted that his brothers and cousin did allow their bank accounts be used to clear cheques written by the victims.
"They're guilty of money laundering," he said.
"In the beginning the first one that put a cheque through his back account was Timothy Cleere, a cheque for £10,000 so he got £1,000 - that's all he done," explained John.
Now he fears his brother Patrick might not survive his time behind bars. "At present he's got terminal cancer, he has six to nine months to live. He's trying to get out on compassionate grounds."
Patrick also got an extra 18 months last December after being convicted of a bizarre plot to scupper his 2019 trial.
John dismissed the attempted trial plot as "more lies".
But Patrick along with his wife Rita were found guilty after they and other family members were accused of handing cash to potential jurors as they entered the court building.
Harrow Crown Court in north-west London was told the Cleeres recruited family and friends to hand out the money and business cards on the steps of Blackfriars Court.
They maintained they were innocently working on a promotion scheme for Candleverse, a firm owned by the Cleeres.
Their relatives and friends were also arrested and charged over the incident in July last year but acquitted by a jury.
John Cleere had also been charged with playing a role in the bid to nobble the jury but the charge was dropped ahead of the trial.
Police took st£920 cash from court attendees, including jurors, and took another st£855 from Rita Cleere.
While Rita was fined st£200 and ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, Patrick was given an 18-month term consecutive to his nine-year jail sentence.
During the original prosecution Patrick Cleere was described as leading the "organised crime group", working with his brother William to target victims "of considerable age and vulnerability".
Prosecutor Robin Sellars said: "This case involves a large-scale campaign of fraud perpetrated by Patrick and William Cleere acting as what we would refer to as an organised crime group against a number of individuals.
"The offenders under the pretext of carrying out legitimate roofing repairs would 'cold call' on the occupants of houses and sell building work that wasn't required and often wasn't in the end undertaken or completed.
"The fees that were charged for these works were grossly inflated.
"Around £300,000 was transferred from victims' bank accounts to suspect bank accounts and just over £250,000 given in cash.
"After the gang abandoned the site, they would again approach the victims posing as surveyors, trading standard officers or representatives from official bodies and attempt to extract more money."
Detectives launched an investigation in June 2016 after they were alerted by a victim in Chingford.
Following an 18-month joint investigation, police brought charges on November 17, 2017.
It was heard how the gang opened several bank accounts in false names using bogus identification documents. Detectives traced the defendants through payments made by the victims.
The group laundered funds through a complex network.
Detective Constable David Saffery, who led the investigation, said after the sentence hearing last year: "These criminals ruined the lives of the vulnerable and elderly householders they preyed on.
"After a careful and meticulous joint investigation, the scammers have been brought to justice."