Ruthless conman who scammed pensioner jailed

Chris Metcalfe
Chris Metcalfe
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A RUTHLESS conman who left a pensioner thousands of pounds out of pocket after carrying out poor and worthless house and garden “improvements” has been jailed.

Patrick Duffy, aged 51, of Barden Terrace, Leeds, and his co-defendants, Bernard Brian Collins, also known as Brian McGinley, and his son Barney Edward Collins, both from Newby Crescent, Harrogate, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

Bernard Collins was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment on appeal on July 13 last year, with Barney Collins sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.

Duffy, however, failed to attend court for sentencing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested in Leeds earlier this month and has since been sentenced to 22 months imprisonment.

Officers from North Yorkshire Trading Standards launched an investigation following a complaint by a 70-year-old man from the Harrogate area. He had been initially cold-called by Bernard Collins, who offered to clean and seal his drive for £450.

Duffy then appeared at his home and persuaded the victim to have the trees in his garden cut. The victim was then repeatedly pressurised by the gang for further work.

Eventually he agreed to the gardening work at a reduced price. Duffy then drove the victim to the bank, to withdraw cash.

The gang returned to the victim’s house the following day and carried out work to clean his conservatory.

They also tried again to persuade him to have other work done to his roof. Duffy then took the victim to the bank for a second time.

The next day, the offenders telephoned the victim and told him they would attend again in two days time, which they did and carried out further cleaning work as the victim was not happy with the previous work. They again attempted to persuade him to have further work done.

Collins also fraudulently claimed the victim owed him £170 in VAT. Duffy then took the victim to a bank for a third time.

When they returned to his house, the victim was promised they would return to tidy up the tree cuttings but never returned and he later found the tree cuttings dumped in his garden. He was defrauded of a total of £1,720.

A surveyor appointed by Trading Standards examined the drive work at the victim’s home and found it had been carried out incompetently, requiring £850 of remedial work. An arboriculturalist also examined the tree cutting work and found it to be poor and incomplete.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for North Yorkshire Trading Standards speaking after the court hearing said the sentence should serve as a warning: “We are pleased to see that the court has recognised the aggravated nature of these offences and hope that this sends a message that this sort of offending will not be tolerated.”