A conman builder who stole from a former Mayor of Preston has been jailed for more than two years.Advertisement
Nathan O’Neil was told by a judge that his behaviour involving the vulnerable elderly men was ‘despicable.’
Liverpool Crown Court heard that 30-year-old O’Neil, a member of the travelling community, has committed 35 previous offences and served three years for a distraction burglary involving another pensioner.
In October last year O’Neil called at the Preston home of 79-year-old Albert Richardson, who was a councillor in St Matthews for more than 30 years, a former mayor and in 2014 was made an Honorary Alderman.
He quoted him £1,750 for roofing repairs and this work began before his concerned nephew heard what was going on. He had previously installed a security camera in the property after an earlier theft and when the footage was viewed the victim was seen counting out the £1,750.
But when Mr Richardson, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, was not looking, O’Neil took £300 of it and put it in his back pocket and Mr Richardson was tricked into adding another £300 to the payment.
The court heard that he grabbed the money belonging to Mr Richardson “when he saw the opportunity.”
In an impact statement the nephew, Simon Richardson, described the victim as kind and caring and said he felt “disgusted” that someone had treated him in such a way.
Helen Richardson, prosecuting, also told how in July 2013 O’Neil quoted an 79-year-old man in Guildford Road, Walton, Liverpool, £75 to repair some plasterwork which he accepted.
But he then kept returning claiming more and more work was needed in the house altogether totalling £21,900 and the pensioner borrowed £15,800 from a friend to pay the bill.
When the police were ultimately contacted and an independent surveyor inspected the house he assessed the work carried out to be worth just £2,000.
O’Neil, of Redrose Caravan Park, Broad Lane, Formby, pleaded guilty to fraud and theft and was jailed for a total of two years 24 weeks.
In mitigation the judge, Recorder Stephen Bedford, heard that O’Neil, who is now a recovering alcoholic, had had significant problems with alcohol and substances.
He was doing building work for various people but lost his driving licence and other people from the travelling community started driving him around. He was frightened of them having earlier been stabbed nine times in Scotland which landed him in hospital for some time.
The work he did initially in Walton was legitimate but it was then taken over by these men whom he refused to name.