Jail term ‘not enough’ for roof fraudster

Steven Robinson.
Steven Robinson.
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A devastated elderly couple who were fleeced out of thousands of pounds by a callous fraudster roofer have today criticised the length of his jail sentence.

Steven Robinson, of Edge End Road, Buttershaw, Bradford, called at the elderly couple’s home in Poulton with another man saying work needed 
doing to their roof.

But after more than £5,000 was handed over by the couple, a check found all the 31-year-old and others had done was some power washing and installation of incorrect dry verges.

Robinson was eventually questioned by police, but in the meantime carried out another fraud on an 84-year-old woman who was persuaded to pay £23,000 for a new roof, with just a small amount of work done.

Robinson pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud over the incident in October 2012.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Preston Crown Court on Thursday – a sentence his victims said is simply not long enough.

The 82-year-old owner of the home, who asked not to be named, said: “These days they seem to give small sentences. It is not just him, it is anyone who does something wrong.

“It is not enough – we will not get our money back.

“We were gullible – we should have never given the money to him.”

His son added: “He has been jailed but it is not enough. It has not helped us – the couple have lost more than £5,000.

“He needs to be off the streets. I believe everyone deserves a second chance but this is not the first time he has done it.”

Rachel Woods, prosecuting, said the owner of the home where the work took place described Robinson as being the sidekick to someone who appeared to be the boss.

The pair cold called at the couples’ address, claiming there were loose slates on the roof. The first man offered to take a closer look for £150. Robinson joined him and they went to look at the roof.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and the husband was told the job was far more serious than first thought. He was shown broken tiles and bits of wood and told there were loose slates and rotting wood and that it would be a big job.

A £4,000 price was given.

Miss Woods added: “Over the next few days people were on the roof, different ones came and went. Robinson was at the address throughout.

“On the last day he knocked on the door and asked for another £750 for plastic sheeting said to have been used to finish off rough edges.

“At the end of the job the man was given a receipt by the defendant and his fingerprints were subsequently found on it.”

A few days later, the elderly man got a phone call from ‘the boss,’ who said VAT would have to be paid on top. Again, Robinson went to the home for an extra £800.

The police were informed due to concerns of the couple’s son and a neighbour. A senior building surveyor went on to examine the work.

“He concluded that all that had really taken place was power washing of roof tiles and the installation of dry verges, which were the incorrect type,” added Miss Woods.

“He estimated that the work was worth £1,500 to £1,700”.

When arrested Robinson accepted having a business called North West Property Maintenance which wasn’t registered for VAT because he said he didn’t earn enough to be eligible for it.

He told the police he had done work at the Poulton address for some travellers, but could only name the man it was subcontracted out to as Andrew, someone he had met in a Lancaster pub.

He said the man had given him the address on a piece of paper and £500. He was interviewed by police in March 2013 and the previous month had carried out the offence involving an 84-year-old woman.

Brian Williams, defending, said the Poulton offence was undoubtedly a mean one and deserved prison. But he said Robinson had not though been the main mover in what took place.

But Robinson had now spent a continuous 12 months in custody – the equivalent of a two-year sentence.

“He really has been thinking hard about the way his life has gone in the last few years and wants to change it. He wants to be a family man,” added Mr Williams.