‘Doorstep sellers in Leeds put my elderly mother on call hit list’

THE son of an elderly dementia sufferer systematically targeted by rogue traders has spoken of fears that a doorstep sellers’ “hit list” exists to prey on society’s most vulnerable.

Andrew Roberton.

The 86-year-old widow, who lives in north Leeds, had a narrow escape from serial conman Andrew Roberton after he was caught trying to sign her up for double glazing that she did not need.

Roberton, 40, has been jailed for 26 months after pleading guilty at Leeds Crown Court to 19 offences under the Fraud Act.

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He offered to arrange double glazing and repairs, but instead conned nine pensioners across West Yorkshire out of a total of £6,170 between February and December 2013.

The 86-year-old was only saved from a similar fate after her daughter-in-law discovered Roberton in her house and asked him to leave.

Her son, who asked not to be identified, said it was just one of a string of incidents in the years since his father died a decade ago.

He said: “She’s one of these people on a hit list. She gets blitzed by cold calls both on the telephone and in person.

“A lot of these companies use rough and ready tactics but just about sale on the right side of the law.

“They are the lowest of the low. I have the greatest lack of respect for them to put it mildly and wish the very worst on them. Most people go out and do a legitimate job. These people are immoral, disgraceful individuals. They are worse than leeches.”

His comments come two years after The Yorkshire Post revealed that a nationwide network of rogue traders was preying on dementia sufferers throughout the county.

In a case brought by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Roberton, of Aldred Court, Bradford, was found to be targeting vulnerable pensioners after setting up AJR Home Improvements.

He falsely told customers that he was an agent of Pilkington’s Glass to get business.

Some work he arranged to be done was shoddy and incomplete and he failed to refund customers who cancelled their contracts.

His latest offences came after he was jailed in 2012 for similar crimes.

Andrew Walker, mitigating, said his client had more recently worked as a salesman on a self-employed basis for a double glazing company, earning a “substantial” sum of money.

Mr Walker added: “He has put himself on the road to his own rehabilitation.”

Jailing Roberton, Judge Christopher Batty told him: “You realised how easy it was to sell to the elderly, how they would take your word on face value and that they were easier to ignore and fob off. You ran a shoddy business, targeting elderly consumers and either de-frauded them or failed to comply with Trading Standards regulations.”

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Doorstep crime remains a very high priority for the service and let this sentence be a warning to other rogue traders.”

Roberton is the latest rogue trader to be jailed in Yorkshire in recent months.

Last year, the ring-leader of a nationwide scam which tricked vulnerable elderly people into paying for shoddy or non-existent caravan repair work was jailed after being reported by a North Yorkshire pensioner.

William King, 35, commanded foot soldiers in the £135,000 rogue trading fraud who operated in separate groups all over the country, including Ripon and Scunthorpe, meaning only he had the full picture.

They conned 48 pensioners, some in their 80s, out of thousands of pounds each by “dramatically” over-charging them for work on static caravans which was often not carried out.