‘Despicable’ Hailsham builder jailed for fraud and money laundering

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A rogue builder from Hailsham who tricked an elderly man into paying large sums of money for unnecessary work on his home has been handed a 34-month jail term.

William Henry Jones, previously of Butts Field, Hailsham, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Monday, August 14 to fraud and money laundering offences, said an East Sussex County Council spokesperson.

Jones conned his 91-year-old victim and demanded he pay a total of £19,500 for work to his roof between April and May 2021, they added.

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The spokesperson said: “The defendant and other persons unknown visited the property on a number of occasions to carry out the work, with the cost of the repairs continuing to increase.

William Henry Jones, previously of Butts Field, Hailsham, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Monday, August 14 to fraud and money laundering offences.William Henry Jones, previously of Butts Field, Hailsham, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Monday, August 14 to fraud and money laundering offences.
William Henry Jones, previously of Butts Field, Hailsham, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Monday, August 14 to fraud and money laundering offences.

“At one point Jones drove the victim to another address to collect his chequebook and then on to a local bank to withdraw funds – a round trip of 75 miles.

“The victim paid over £13,000 in total although he was able to cancel a cheque for £8,000 before it cleared.”

A surveyor assessed that the completed work was of a very poor standard and not compliant with relevant standards, regulations, or manufacturers’ guidance. Jones left the roof in an extremely poor state and significant works were required to remedy the damage, said the council.

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The cost for the work, had it been necessary and to a good standard, is estimated to be between £4,000 and £5,000. The surveyor said that there was no justification for the £19,500 charged by Jones.

Jones, 28, pleaded guilty to one offence of fraud totalling £19,500 contrary to Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, and one offence of converting criminal property, to the value of £4,000, contrary to Section 327 (1) (c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the council said.

His Honour Judge Mooney sentenced Jones to 34 months’ imprisonment, which is to run concurrently to a sentence already being served for other matters.

When sentencing Jones, HHJ Mooney said: “The victim was old and you targeted him. It is absolutely dreadful what you did. You see old people as a cash cow. It’s absolutely despicable and vile.

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“You deliberately targeted an elderly man. You demanded £19,500 although the victim’s actual loss was £5,000. There are no mitigating factors. The aggravating facts are very bad.

“I sentence you to 34 months’ immediate custody. You will serve 17 months. If you do this again, I will sentence you to a substantial prison sentence. You deserve very little mercy as you’ve not shown any.”

East Sussex Trading Standards are bringing confiscation proceedings against Jones under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the sums taken from the victim.

Andy Clooney, East Sussex Trading Standards team manager, said: “This was a despicable act of fraud against an elderly and vulnerable resident, who has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.

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“We are pleased Jones has been sentenced to over two and half years in prison for these offences.

“This prosecution should send a message to other rogue traders that we will do everything we can to get justice for our residents.”