A gang of dodgy builders deliberately targeted a number of vulnerable victims and ripped them off for thousands of pounds by carrying out shoddy work on homes around the region.

One of the victims told investigators that he handed over ‘bloody wads of money’ after being driven to banks in Darlington and Richmond to withdraw a total of £23,950 over a three-month period in 2018.

The pensioner paid money to have his roof and gutters cleaned; repairs to central heating system; and installation of an unneeded second set of solar panels on the roof of his home near Catterick Garrison.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the former serviceman had passed away since the fraud and his brother told the judge how the victim was pressurised into paying for the work and never fully came to terms with it.

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David Mason, 42, Gary Russell, 44, Adam Godley, 33, and 43-year-old Christopher Scott, were accused of dishonestly overcharging for work that was unnecessary, and sometimes not carried out at all.

The Northern Echo: David Mason. Gang of dodgy builders locked up for targeting vulnerable pensioners. Pictured are David Mason, Gary Russell, Christopher Scott and Adam Godley. Picture: NORTH YORKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCILDavid Mason. Gang of dodgy builders locked up for targeting vulnerable pensioners. Pictured are David Mason, Gary Russell, Christopher Scott and Adam Godley. Picture: NORTH YORKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (Image: North Yorkshire County Council)

The men worked under trading names including Master Seal, Pro-Seal, Aquaseal and Bespoke Driveway Renovations, defrauded customers out of a least £51,735.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said that the four men, in differing roles, had an "agreement to defraud" householders by dishonestly overcharging for work, dishonestly carrying out unnecessary work and charging for it and also dishonestly charging for work that they hadn’t actually ever been carried out.

He told the court that Mason was the driving force behind the fraud and he used his co-accused as ‘cold callers’ to target the vulnerable pensioners, some of whom had already been victims of dodgy builders.

Mr Bennett said the offences took place across Darlington, County Durham and North Yorkshire, with the accused ‘taking up residence’ in some of the victims’ homes while they carried out shoddy work on neighbouring properties.

The Northern Echo: Gary Russell. Picture: NYCCGary Russell. Picture: NYCC (Image: North Yorkshire County Council)

The four men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud a total of 22 householders out of tens of thousands of pounds by carrying out shoddy repairs to homes between September 1, 2017, and October 18, 2018.

The court heard how a number of the complainants had passed away since they were ripped-off by the conmen.

Howard Shaw, representing Mason, said not all of the customers contacted by trading standards were dissatisfied with his work but maintained his client was now suffering from a brain tumour.

He added: “He can be a hardworking man and is definitely a family man as a father-of-two.”

Mason also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice as a result of his pretence to be suffering from a neurological problem.

Gary Wood, on behalf of Russell, said his client had been recruited to take part in the fraud by Mason and was a willing participant but made very little money from his offending.

The Northern Echo: Christopher Scott. Picture: NYCCChristopher Scott. Picture: NYCC (Image: North Yorkshire County Council)

Paul Green, mitigating on behalf of Scott, said his client played a limited role in the conspiracy and had to some degree been exploited himself while heavily under the influence of drugs at the time of the offences.

While Dr Christopher Wood, representing Godley, said his client was only involved in the conspiracy for a matter of weeks before he was arrested and had only worked as a canvasser for the gang to fund his ‘alcoholism’.

The Northern Echo: Adam Godley. Picture: NYCCAdam Godley. Picture: NYCC (Image: North Yorkshire County Council)

Judge Jonathan Carroll described Mason as the ringleader with Russell as his trusted lieutenant throughout the conspiracy to defraud.

He said: “Mason, you stood to gain most; you recruited your team; you set up false details and the purpose of this criminality was to fund your grossly excessive, overspending lifestyle.

“In setting up your team you targeted those you could use, either because of knowledge of past victims you could exploit again or because their own addiction meant you could rely on them to do your bidding.”

Mason, of Harlech Court, Ingleby Barwick, was jailed for eight years and eight months, and Russell, of Bridport Close, Stockton, was jailed for five years and three months.

While Godley, of High Street, Yarm, and Scott, of Gresham Road, Middlesbrough, were both sentenced to 20 months in custody.

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