Hartlepool man accused of trying to con 81-year-old woman out of £6,000 for building work

The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A 29-year-old man has gone on trial accused of trying to fleece an 81-year-old woman of £6,000.

Jamie Gascoigne is alleged to have taken part in a plan to overcharge the woman for building work to her Hartlepool home.

Gascoigne was arrested after staff in the alleged victim's bank became concerned when she looked uncomfortable during a visit to the branch, Teesside Crown Court heard.

"The victim was in the front garden of her house to do the hedge," said Susan Hirst, prosecuting.

"A white van pulled up and a man who was not this defendant asked the victim if she wanted any jobs doing.

"She lives in a semi-detached house with a two-storey extension which has a flat roof.

"The man said the roof needed doing because it was 'all blistered'.

"The victim asked what it would cost, and was told it would be £6,000.

"It is our case that the van door was open, and Mr Gascoigne would have heard the quote being given."

The court heard Gascoigne and the other men left in the van.

"A little while later one of the victim's home support workers arrived for a routine visit," added Ms Hirst.

"She noticed the victim appeared upset, and asked what had happened.

"The worker advised the victim to speak to a relative before getting the work done, but unfortunately before that could happen Mr Gascoigne returned.

"He gave the victim a lift to her bank, Barclays in Hartlepool.

"A cashier at the bank noticed the victim looked uncomfortable.

"The victim said she needed to withdraw money to pay for roof repairs.

"This made the cashier suspicious, and she contacted her manager.

"He went upstairs in the bank from where he took a photograph of a white van outside."

The court heard police were called.

"Officers found Gascoigne in the van parked nearby," said Ms Hirst.

"When interviewed, he said he had been helping the other man on jobs but he knew nothing of any financial arrangements.

"He had given the victim a lift when asked to do so.

"We say this was a case of two men preying on an elderly woman, trying to charge her a vast amount for work that did not need doing.

"A chartered surveyor examined the roof.

"He found the installation was not the best quality, but there was nothing seriously wrong with it.

"His opinion was there was no justification for spending more than £600 to £800 on it."

Gascoigne, of Stephen Street, Hartlepool, denies fraud on October 22, last year.