[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Bogus caller gang sent to prison
A pensioner answers her door - generic
The gang targeted seven pensioners in their own homes
Three builders who conned pensioners out of their life savings are beginning jail sentences totalling 12 years.

Alexander Allan, William McPhee and Andrew Cummings took nearly 70,000 from seven victims by pretending they needed roofing work carried out.

They inflated the cost of jobs and claimed more work was needed. They were convicted after a three-week trial.

The victims were aged between 75 and 84 and targeted in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire in 2003 and 2004.

Jane McCreath, 76, from Ayr, South Ayrshure, was told that she would be made homeless if she failed to pay.

It's clear in this case there has to be a custodial sentence for each one of you
Sheriff John McGowan

She said: "They said I needed work done on the roof and it would cost 4,000."

Allan, 46, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, kept coming back for more money until he had 38,000.

Miss McCreath added: "They told me they'd get a lawyer and I'd lose my house.

"They drove me to the bank to get the cash."

Margaret Tennant, 84, from Troon, South Ayrshire, handed over 14,350.

But the work carried out by McPhee, 40, from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, and Cummings, 25, from Ayr, was worth 1,500.

Ruth Johnstone, 84, from Ayr, who is registered blind and deaf was conned into signing a cheque for 600.

Witness protection

The gang altered the amount to steal 6,000 from her account.

They also called at 77-year-old Catherine Cooper's house in Dunure, South Ayrshire, and said her roof was leaking before taking 3,200 from her for work worth only 300.

Passing sentence at Ayr Sheriff Court, Sheriff John McGowan said: "It's clear in this case there has to be a custodial sentence for each one of you."

Allan was sentenced to five years and eight months, McPhee received five-and-a-half years and Cummings was jailed for a year.

A fourth man, Alexander Townsley, 45, from Crieff, Perthshire, gave evidence for the Crown against his former co-accused after having charges against him withdrawn during the trial.

Townsley is now under a witness protection scheme.


RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific