TWO BROTHERS were each sentenced to 20 months in prison at York Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud elderly residents by conducting roofing and gardening work at their properties.
Shane Hooton, 24, and Kofi James Hooton, 22, both of Thistle Hill, Knaresborough, traded together as One Stop Roofing and primarily cold called residents in Harrogate. Between 2012 and 2015 their victims were persuaded to have unnecessary and shoddy work undertaken, were charged excessive amounts and, in the worst cases, were repeatedly visited for further work to be undertaken.
The brothers also pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of their offending.
Sentencing the brothers, His Honour Judge Batty QC said: “The two of you knew perfectly well that you were targeting elderly people. It was a persistent course of conduct.”
He added: “To call it a business is a complete joke.”
A retired couple from Harrogate, who were victims of the Hootons’ fraud, said: “We were devastated anyone could treat vulnerable people in this way and be so dishonest. They defrauded us of £2,500, which we could not afford to lose. We felt very let down and our trust in people was damaged.”
A further victim, a disabled man living alone in the Harrogate area, said: “I think it is disgraceful that these individuals have taken advantage of disabled and vulnerable people such as myself. I am very happy with the efforts of North Yorkshire Trading Standards to secure a conviction in this case.”
The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team said the investigation led to the establishment of the largest No Cold Call Zone in the county, in Bilton, Harrogate, as it revealed the area was being repeatedly targeted by offenders. More than 1,800 houses were included in the zone set up during the investigation.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “This case is an illustration of our determination to disrupt all offenders who set about deliberately defrauding the most vulnerable in our communities. We are absolutely committed to working effectively with our partners to protect our vulnerable residents from all forms of fraud.”