A ROGUE builder who helped to defraud a pensioner out of his life’s savings through shoddy and unnecessary work must repay his ill-gotten gains.

Mark Elliot was jailed for 16 months at Liverpool Crown Court in February after ripping off an elderly Culcheth man living in a retirement bungalow out of more than £60,000.

The then-57-year-old, of Shaw Lane Prescot, was hauled back before the court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing to learn how much he would have to repay.

The court heard how he benefitted from a total of £76,059.25 through his offending.

A judge ordered that this must be paid back within three months – or the defendant must serve an additional 18 month imprisonment by default.

During his sentencing hearing, prosecutor Ryan Rothwell told the court how Elliot had laundered money for a group of men who tricked a vulnerable and elderly man.

He described how in March 2020, the victim was awoken by men banging on his door. When he did not open, they began banging on his bedroom window.

When the victim opened the door, he found a group of men claiming that neighbours had complained and his roof needed to be fixed.

The victim agreed to the work and agreed upon an initial figure of £30,000.

As work continued, they convinced the man he needed more and more work done, including an extension. The final figure ended up being an estimated £63,500.

Mr Rothwell told the court how a building expert claimed the value of the work done was in fact ‘£0’, and in actual fact, it had to be demolished and redone.

Photos taken of the work carried out

Photos taken of the work carried out

Elliot claimed his role was simply to funnel the money to the organisers of the fraud, who had promised him 10 per cent because of 'issues with their bank account'.

The prosecution however said Elliot had carried out work on the house, and so he ‘absolutely would have known the work being carried out was taking advantage of the victim’.

All the cheques for the work were sent to Elliot’s account, after which roughly 90 per cent were sent to accounts which the prosecution was unable to trace.

Three cheques were sent to Elliot – one for £8,000, one for £5,500 and one for £50,000.

In an impact statement, the ‘embarrassed’ victim said: “I have lost all my confidence and had saved all my life to help my retirement. I now find it difficult to trust anybody.”

His defence, Reginald Mills painted a picture of a man with money problems who was pressured to take part in proceedings and is 'thoroughly ashamed of himself'.

Before sentencing, recorder Jeremy Lasker said: “I have no doubt in my mind the victim was misled, and that he was vulnerable. It seems to me you were aware he was a vulnerable target.”

The sentence was welcomed by Cllr Hitesh Patel, Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, housing and public protection.

He said: “We will always take the strongest possible action against rogue builders, and this criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

“The actions of this individual caused real misery and hardship for the homeowner, and we are hopeful they will receive as much compensation as possible.”