Pensioners conned by 'despicable' roofer William Wallace, Leicester court told
A roofer who fleeced nine vulnerable elderly people out of £50,000 by overcharging them for work has been jailed for four years.
Judge Simon Hammond imprisoned William Wallace telling him that his offences against the pensioners were "despicable and heartless".
Prosecutor John Hallissey told Leicester Crown Court this week how Wallace drove one 85-year-old woman to her building society so she could pay him.
He said Wallace, 39, of Justin Park caravan park, Northampton Road, Market Harborough, charged the woman £21,800 for work worth about £500.
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
Mr Hallissey said the woman, who is now dead, was intimidated by Wallace who was described by the judge as a large imposing man.
He said Wallace had preyed on his victims in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk during 2011.
Wallace pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud involving victims ranging in age from 70 to 88.
Mr Hallissey told the court that Wallace had 51 previous convictions including dishonesty, harassment, theft, burglary and handling stolen goods.
Judge Hammond said to Wallace: "You basically ran a business during 2011 to defraud and exploit and extract money from vulnerable elderly victims.
"The system was to arrive unannounced at a house to claim there was a defect on the roof and offer to rectify the defect.
"Sometimes you quoted for work, sometimes not. You often said there were future works that had to be made.
"You would then charge extortionate amounts of money. Sometimes a little work was done with little value, sometimes none at all was done."
The judge told how one pensioner, who was charged £14,950 by Wallace in July 2011, had to get a loan.
He said: "This victim had to get a loan just to get by because she had been fleeced of all her money."
Judge Hammond told Wallace: "Any right-minded person would find these offences despicable, pitiless and heartless. You would often go back for more and more money.
"The courts have a duty to protect the vulnerable members of our society."
Jagvir Sangherra, for Wallace, said his client had been guided by other people.
Mr Sangherra said Wallace, a father of five, had been battling a dependency on class A drugs and had been struggling to hold his marriage together.
He said: "Mr Wallace was a drug addict and dependent on alcohol and he was perhaps being used by others, who are possibly more sophisticated than he is."
Two other men who helped Wallace launder the cheques through their bank accounts were each jailed for six months.
Lee Warburton, and Craig Taylor, both of Whitehaven caravan park, in Green Lane, Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to the charges of money laundering.
Mr Hallissey said the pair were not involved in any contact with the elderly victims.
David Charman, representing both Taylor and Warburton, said his clients were horrified when they learned what their back accounts were being used for.
After the case, Pc Alex Walker, who was the investigating officer, said: "These were despicable crimes against vulnerable people.
"Wallace targeted the victims over a number of months and charged extortionate amounts of money for incomplete and an unsatisfactory standard of work.
"We are pleased he has pleaded guilty to these offences and we hope this conviction sends a clear message to those who believe they can target the elderly or vulnerable in this way, that we will catch up with them."