Men jailed for fraud after pensioner handed over blank cheque for roof repairs

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Two men have been jailed after attempts were made to obtain £20,000 with a signed blank cheque which a vulnerable 82-year-old woman handed over for repairs to her roof.

A woman who tried to cash the cheque at banks in Sutton and Kirkby has been given a suspended sentence.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that men with ladders had turned up at the victim’s home and told her major work was needed on her roof.

Mark Walvin (37) of Brand Lane, Stanton Hill, Sutton, and George Allen, 24, of The Paddock, Huthwaite Lane, Blackwell, Alfreton, were each jailed for 16 months.

Claire Laidlaw, 31, of Institute Street, Sutton was given 12 months suspended for 18 months.

The judge said Allen had a dreadful record for similar offences of fraud. He was currently serving a prison sentence for another matter.

The prosecution said Allen and another man, not before the court, knocked at the 82-year-old’s home in Beeston on August 22 last year.

They said they were not sure what the exact cost of the repair work would be and the trusting victim handed over a blank cheque.

“An hour and a half later CCTV caught Laidlaw at Lloyds TSB in Kirkby,” said Richard Thatcher, prosecuting.

She said the account holder was her grandmother and she had her permission to cash the £20,000 cheque.

But the clerk was suspicious and the transaction did not go through.

Laidlaw admitted later she had earlier tried to cash the cheque at a TSB branch in Sutton.

She said she would have been paid £1,000 by two men she did not know.

After that lack of success the two ‘builders’ returned to the elderly woman’s home and she signed and dated a second cheque.

Walvin took it to the TSB in Wollaton, Nottingham where he tried to pay it in and withdraw £19,000.

The clerk kept him talking and the police arrived to arrest him. He claimed two ‘gypsy lads’ had asked him to cash the cheque.

Allen and Walvin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

Walvin admitted a similar offence against a 61-year-old woman with learning difficulties two days earlier.

He had paid in a cheque for £1,3000 and taken out all but £50 of it.

In mitigation it was said Walvin lived alone with a couple of dogs and struggled to get by.

Judge James Sampson told Laidlaw, who admitted her part, she had been ‘ready, willing and able’ to take part in a serious offence.