A plumber who siphoned more than ÂŁ5,000 from the bank account of a disabled Prestatyn pensioner but failed to carry out his bathroom renovation has been told to sell his own house quickly if he wants to reduce his prison sentence.
Andrew Young took advantage of wheelchair-bound Kenneth Hawley by upping an original quote of ÂŁ3,875 with extra costing for materials including glassware, lighting and tiling.
But Mold Crown Court heard that Cheshire-based Young, who traded under the name Andy Plumb & Heat, failed to undertake the work at the 69-year-oldâ€™s home in Warren Road, Prestatyn, claiming initially he had a broken arm. Later he said his mother had been taken ill and was â€śon her last legsâ€ť.
Young admitted fraud and Judge Niclas Parry bailed him until November 14 for sentencing. But in the meantime he told him he would need to sell his home to repay the ÂŁ5,450 he had prised from the pensioner as well as a ÂŁ6,000 contribution to total court costs of ÂŁ8,000.
â€śAny right-minded person will be shocked by what you did. He [Mr Hawley] simply wanted a bathroom adapted so he could wash himself properly and you took that as an opportunity to make money,â€ť said the judge.
â€śMy main aim is to reclaim the money for him and for Denbighshire County Council. I also will make it quite clear that you are still likely to get a custodial sentence, but it will be significantly reduced. It is up to you.â€ť
Mr Hawley, who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and is partially blind, agreed initially to transfer ÂŁ2,000 into Youngâ€™s account using internet banking. He made another payment of ÂŁ2,000 after Young offered to install spot lights and lay some tiling in the bathroom at extra cost.
Further payments were made and Young promised he would start the work on September 27, 2016 only to text the pensioner saying he had broken his arm.
Prosecuting barrister Philip Clemo said: â€śMr Hawley said that if he couldnâ€™t get the job done he should refund the money.
â€śBut the defendant said he would start the job later on September 30, but two days before that messaged again and said his mother was in hospital.â€ť
The pensioner complained to Denbighshire Countyâ€™s Trading Standards Department and when one of its officers spoke to Young he said he didnâ€™t normally provide any paperwork to clients.
The trader was asked to attend a formal interview with trading standards officers on March 4 last year, but he cancelled his appointment saying it was â€śtoo short noticeâ€ť.
The court heard that Mr Hawley hired another contractor to do the work and as he had not received his money back from Young he was forced to take out a loan for another ÂŁ5,000 so as to get the bathroom work done.
The pensioner said in a victim impact statement read to the court that he had lost his trust in people as a result of being conned.
Mr Clemo said Young had handed out a leaflet on the one occasion he attended the pensionerâ€™s property which stated his businessâ€™ philosophy, â€śThe right job at the right price at the right timeâ€ť.
But the prosecutor noted that Young hadnâ€™t followed any of his guiding principles.
â€śThis is a man who has treated Mr Hawley as a source of ready funds – he had no intention to carry out the work in the manner that he said he would,â€ť said Mr Clemo.
â€śThe job was a sham and from very early on he saw Mr Hawley as a man who he could get cash from and he exploited that.â€ť
Young, 37, of Millfields, Nantwich initially denied defrauding the pensioner between September 1, 2016 and October 4, 2016, but changed his plea after his trial started.
Young told the court: â€śI am sorry, I have never done anything like that before and I have been trading for 17 years. I didnâ€™t want to take his money, I just wanted to finish the job off.â€ť