Cold caller jailed for targeting pensioner

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A DOORSTEP trader who aggressively targeted a vulnerable pensioner and demanded hundreds of pounds from him for gardening work has been jailed.

George Thomas Sonny Knowles, 33, was sentenced to 13 months in prison after cold-calling an elderly man in Skipton and “bullying” him into handing over £600.

Bradford Crown Court heard Knowles talked his victim, who was in ill health and confused following a stroke, into letting him carry out the work - then demanded immediate payment in cash.

He drove the elderly man to the bank where he withdrew £600 and handed over £330. The next day Knowles returned to his home and demanded the remaining £270.

A neighbour then alerted police and North Yorkshire trading standards and Knowles was arrested when he returned for a third time to the property.

Knowles, formerly of Noel Road, Lancaster, had been jailed for similar offending at Bradford Crown Court last September.

He was still on licence when he called at the man’s home in February, having been released from prison just two months earlier.

He was recalled to prison to serve the rest of his original sentence after he was charged with aggressive practices under consumer protection laws in March.

He admitted the offence, as well as failing to provide a notice informing the customer of his rights to cancel the contract, and failing to tell the victim how much the work would cost in advance.

Sentencing him yesterday, Mr Recorder Bindloss described the offending as “bullying for gain”.

“You identified him as an easy target and took the opportunity in an aggressive, mean and intimidating way,” he said.

Knowles was ordered to pay £600 back to his victim and another £750 towards North Yorkshire County Council’s costs.

Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for the authority’s trading standards and planning services, said: “I hope this serves as a timely reminder to doorstep offenders that we do not tolerate this behaviour.”