Months after being jailed for conning elderly people, this man was at it again: Cold-calling a 90-year-old Norwich woman who was reduced to tears by his cash demands
PUBLISHED: 09:47 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:47 15 January 2014
A “rogue trader” who cold called on a 90-year-old Norwich woman and carried out work on her guttering and garage has been jailed after it put him in breach of a restraining order.
Duncan McPhee, 30, appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentence yesterday after previously pleading guilty to breaching a restraining order.
The order, prohibiting McPhee from making unsolicited calls at private houses for purposes of cleaning, building or gardening work, had been put in place after he was convicted in August 2012 of fraud and jailed for 10 weeks.
It followed an offence in 2012 when he cold called on an 85-year-old woman in Drayton and carried out work on her guttering which was not requested, charging £80.
But in June 19 last year McPhee, of Flowerdew Close, Hethersett, called at the front door of a woman, 90, in the north Norwich area.
She was at home alone and he offered to do work on her guttering and fascias.
Christopher Youell, prosecuting, said he charged £80 and drove her to the post office so she could get the money.
The court heard he also carried out work on her garage doors, charging £50 and again drove her to get the money out.
Mr Youell said the victim was not particularly happy and spoke to her granddaughter.
The granddaughter, who later picked McPhee out in an identity parade, came to the house and found the victim crying in the kitchen as she had been asked for another £140.
He was later arrested and interviewed and when asked about the restraining order said that while he was aware he could not do building or gardening work he thought cleaning work was all right.
Jonathan Morgans, mitigating for McPhee, who has nine previous convictions from 14 offences, said his client should receive full credit for his plea.
He said McPhee had a “long-standing involvement” with this type of work.
He said: “This isn’t targeting of older people but targeting of property that requires a degree of maintenance.”
Mr Morgans said his client “knows he’s not to cold call in the future”.
He also asked that McPhee, who has young children, be spared custody as “it’s those innocent around him that will be punished most by his incarceration”.
Sentencing McPhee to three months’ imprisonment, Judge Anthony Bate said the defendant knew “perfectly well” he was not permitted to cold call and described the defendant as being “entrenched” in that type of behaviour.
Speaking afterwards, Detective Sergeant Peter Jessop, from Norfolk Constabulary’s Operation RADAR team, dedicated to tackling doorstep crime, said: “McPhee is a repeat offender and someone who clearly disregards not only the law and anything laid down by the courts but also the wellbeing, welfare and feelings of his victims.
“These victims are, contrary to his defence team’s comments, elderly and vulnerable.
“McPhee typifies a rogue trader and he should be aware that my team will continue to target those who commit this type of offence. The order remains and we will be enforcing it. He has an opportunity now to sort himself out and reflect on his actions.”
He said that a rogue trader was not simply someone who was a poor workman.
“A rogue trader is a deceitful fraudster who is quite prepared to take money from anyone that they can dupe, con or confuse and often preys on their good nature and vulnerabilities,” he added.
“We have said it time and time again – do not deal with anyone who turns up unannounced on your doorstep offering to carry out work for you. Legitimate trades people will not cold call you and you should get recommendations and use information such as Norfolk trading standards trusted trader book to call vetted trades people to your home.”