Rogue traders jailed for OAP roof con

William Johnstone conman jailed
William Johnstone conman jailed

Two brothers who charged a vulnerable great grandfather hundreds of pounds for unnecessary work on his roof have been jailed by a judge who called them “mean and despicable”.

Roy Braithwaite, 81, was tricked into handing the conmen £770 for work that did not need doing at his Carnforth home.

William Johnstone, 47, and John Johnstone, 57, both of Hood Street, Accrington, targeted him at his home on Longmere Crescent, Carnforth, on November 20, 2014.

They charged him £770 for smothering concrete around roof tiles, making it look like they had pointed the whole roof - and told him a further £850 was required.

William was jailed for nine months and John for 20 weeks, with their work van seized by the courts and an order for £285 compensation each.

The elderly father-of-two never lived to see justice done, passing away last spring.

His wife, who was in a hospice at the time of the offences, passed away a week before their trial.

They both pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation on the day of their trial.

Andrew Evans, prosecuting, said they were foiled when his family stepped in.

He said: “The victim’s son Ian received a phone call from his wife Margaret after he told her he was going to pay £770 for some roofing work.

“A relative had already repaired the roof earlier that year and he was greatly concerned why his father was being asked to pay money for work that in his mind had already been done. He called the police.”

Both brothers have extensive criminal records and William Johnstone was previously jailed for demanding a ‘ridiculous’ sum for labouring work from an 82-year-old deaf and partially blind victim.

Daniel Prowse, defending William, said his offending was linked to alcohol abuse but he had been tee total for 14 months.

He said they had offered to pay back £520 - the difference between the legitimate work they did and the amount of the fraud.

Defending John Johnstone, Anthony Parkinson asked the court to bear in mind his lack of recent offending and health issues.

Judge Lloyd said: “I’ve been looking at your business cards.

They say ‘Our reputation is your recommendation, a fair price.’

“If ever there was a false trade description this was it.”