AN elderly householder was fleeced of several thousand pounds for very little work performed by a doorstep conman.

But it was only a suspicious bank employee whose vigilance prevented the frail 85-year-old woman losing a further £3,500, paid for “repairs" to the roof of her Chester-le-Street home.

Durham Crown Court heard that over the space of three days, last July, James Dolan called at her home at least twice to carry out the "work", which he told the victim was needed to repair her roof.

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John Gillette, prosecuting, said she made an initial cash payment of about £4,700, but after Dolan returned claiming more work was required, she handed over a cheque in the sum of a further £3,800.

It was made out to a companion of Dolan, 28-year-old Jonathan Keogh, who paid it into his account, at a bank in Peterlee.

Mr Gillette told the court that a bank cashier had concerns about the cheque and, following inquiries, stopped the transaction on the day it was paid into the branch.

As it did not clear there was no further loss to the complainant.

Mr Gillette said when it came to police attention, the roof was examined and it emerged only minimal work was carried out to the guttering.

But it appeared no work was actually performed on the roof, itself.

Twenty-six-year-old Dolan, of Greenacres Stables, Haswell, east Durham, admitted a charge of fraud, in the sum of £8,437, on dates between June 30 and July 5, last year, at a recent plea hearing at the court.

Andrew Rutter, for Dolan, said the admission was made on the basis that he intended doing some work to the roof, albeit, it would have been unnecessary.

Mr Rutter added that his client intended to compensate the victim, in part from his savings.

Dolan’s co-accused, Keogh, of Station Road, Easington Colliery, denied acquiring or possessing criminal property, relating to the cheque.

While admitting paying it into the bank, he said he thought it was legitimately received, believing it was for work genuinely performed by Dolan.

But he was found ‘guilty’ on a unanimous jury verdict following a three-day trial at the court, today (Wednesday February 5).

Recorder Taryn Turner adjourned sentence on both pending preparation of background reports on the pair by the Probation Service.

She told Keogh, however: “You’ve been convicted by this jury of a serious criminal offence.

“You must understand, in my judgement, it’s almost inevitable you’ll be going to custody when you return, so be prepared for that.”

Both Dolan and Keogh were bailed to return for sentence later this month.