Rogue builders who continually conned elderly woman jailed

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Four men conned an elderly woman out of her North London home…and then came back for even more.

Rogue builders who defrauded a woman in her eighties out of ownership of her house and £130,000 were jailed for over 13 years last Friday at Southwark Crown Court.

John Paul O’Connor, 36, of Sevenoaks pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and was sentenced to four years and nine months. Samuel Smith, 40, of Old Bath Road, Charvil in Reading pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation and was sentenced to three years. John Keenan, 39, of Arrow Close, Luton, Bedfordshire pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering and was sentenced to three years and eight months’ imprisonment. He was also sentenced to two years and 10 months for a separate incident in 2017 involving two elderly males. Both sentences will run consecutively. Roger Knight, 44, of Meridian Way, Enfield pleaded guilty to money laundering concerned in an arrangement and was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years.

In 2008, the elderly victim, who lives in North London, was targeted by ‘rogue builders’ who told her that her house needed lots of work. The victim was unable to afford the prices quoted and John Paul O’Connor was introduced to the victim as someone who could purchase her house and complete the works, whilst allowing the victim to continue living there.

O’Connor took the victim to a solicitor who did not act in her best interests and the house was subsequently sold to O’Connor for less than a third of its market value. Once the sale was complete, the victim was told to write out four cheques, totalling £70,000.

These cheques were paid into two accounts in the name of Roger Knight. Once cleared, the cash was removed from Knight’s accounts. Smith then targeted the victim, falsely informing her that the property needed underpinning and defrauded her out of a further £28,500. He later returned to the property and defrauded her out of a further £8,500.

In 2013, the woman was further defrauded when she was informed that she could re-purchase her property. She asked an elderly friend to help finance the purchase and transferred £27,000 into an account held by John Keenan who immediately dissipated the funds.

Police were made aware and began to investigate. They established that John Keenan had credited his 11- year-old daughter’s account with more than £100,000 over 18 months. The money was spent on luxury goods and living expenses.

Detective Constable Rob Enderby, of the Met’s Criminal Finance Team, said: “This group repeatedly targeted the victim who lived alone and convinced her that she needed work done to her house, causing enormous distress. It will be a long time, if ever, that the victim’s faith in others is restored but I hope that the conviction and sentencing of this unscrupulous group will at least help her begin to feel safer.

“I am pleased with these sentences which demonstrate just how seriously the police and the courts take these kinds of offences.”

As part of his guilty plea O’Connor agreed to sign the house back over to his victim. Confiscation proceedings will now take place, said police.


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