Conman builder jailed for defrauding elderly Wirral woman

Wirral Globe: Thomas Collins-Joyce. Thomas Collins-Joyce.

A PERSISTENT conman who defrauded a Wirral pensioner out of nearly £4,500 for unnecessary building work has been jailed for two years.

Thomas Collins-Joyce was originally imprisoned for six months in October, 2012, for the offence against the 75-year-old woman.

However shortly after his release, he was back to his old tricks cold-calling elderly people in Preston and Warrington.

Now he has been sentenced to two years behind bars and given a five-year Anti-social behaviour order at Preston Crown Court.

The initial fraud conviction came after he cold-called the Wirral pensioner’s home and charged her £4,347 for work worth only £360.

Wirral magistrates sentenced him to six months’ jail, reduced to four on appeal.

But less than a month after his release on December 15 he committed a similar offence, cold-calling an 84-year-old widower living alone in the Poulton-le-Fylde area.

He was defrauded out of more than £6,000 for building work which was largely unnecessary and where it had actually been carried out was shoddy and overpriced.

The estimated real value of the work was between £400 and £500.

The widower was also charged for a job he was conned into thinking had been done.

Collins-Joyce, 48, from Liverpool and his nephew, Christopher John Joyce, 29, from Blackpool, also purported to re-tarmac the driveway.

But they did not excavate the existing surface, covering it instead in a layer of slurry they painted black.

The pair pleaded guilty to fraud at the Preston court on November 5 last year.

Sentencing was adjourned till February, and last Tuesday Collins-Joyce was given two years' imprisonment and his nephew jailed for one year.

The judge noted Collins-Joyce had relevant previous convictions for similar frauds and that within a month of his release had come up with an “elaborate scheme in company with his nephew.”

If Collins-Joyce breaches his Asbo, which bans him from cold-calling or carrying out work without the homeowner’s written permission, he will face up to five years behind bars.

The prosecution was a result of joint action by trading standards officers from Wirral and Warrington.

Councillor Brian Kenny, Wirral Council cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “This case demonstrates the hard work and tenacity shown by Wirral’s trading standards officers towards protecting consumers, working alongside colleagues in other areas.

“It also demonstrates exactly why we don’t welcome cold-calling in Wirral.”

Anyone wanting advice about cold-callers should telephone trading standards on 08454 04 05 06.

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