Two await sentence over Harpenden roofing scam

Scales of Justice.

Scales of Justice. - Credit: Archant

TWO men are to be sentenced for their part in fleecing an elderly Harpenden woman out of more than £12,000 with a roofing scam.

Mathew Baness, 30, and Mark Brock, 29, were part of a team that preyed on the 74-year-old woman at her Harpenden bungalow in June 2011.

The victim was led to believe her roof was in need of repair when it was not. They then pretended to carry out the work when in reality they did nothing

At Luton Crown Court last Wednesday Brock, of Eaton Bray, was found guilty of two offences of fraud and one offence of engaging in an unfair commercial practice.

Baness, of Luton, was acquitted by a jury of the two fraud offences but found guilty of engaging in an unfair practice.

The pair will be sentenced on February 8 and were given bail while pre-sentence reports were prepared by the probation service.

But Judge Barbara Mensah warned them the offences crossed the “custody threshold.”

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At the start of the trial, Andrew Johnson, prosecuting, told the court the case, “was about rogue traders.”

He said “It’s about the obtaining of a great deal of money from an elderly lady by telling her untruths and putting significant pressure on her.”

Mr Johnson said the defendants were not the only people to have been involved in tricking the woman.

He described the victim as a 74 year old who lived on her own and on a day in early June 2011, answered her doorbell to find a young man standing there who told her there was a problem with her roof.

The court heard she agreed to him doing the work and he came back later with a man called Danny.

Initially, said the prosecutor, the woman was told the price would be fixed at £4,000.

Over several days a number of men appeared to be working on the roof but she was then asked for two further payments and in total £12,300 was withdrawn from her bank to pay for the work she thought was being carried out.

Gradually the victim began to have concerns about the work the men had purported to have done.

As a result she spoke to her neighbour, a retired fire surveyor, who went to inspect the roof and quickly came to the opinion that nothing had been done.

Eventually the woman contacted Herts Police who deployed a number of officers in and around her home on a day when it was thought the gang might return.

That day a grey Ford Transit van was spotted in the area and a short while later Baness knocked at the woman’s door.

He was duly arrested and claimed he had called by to collect £600 on behalf of someone called Simon.

In the van, officers found Brock and he too was arrested.