Bogus workman conned 84-year-old victim

George McPhee. Picture: Vic Rodrick
George McPhee. Picture: Vic Rodrick
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A BOGUS workman tried to con an 84-year-old man out of £850 after a botched repair job on his Lothian home.

George McPhee even gave his elderly victim a lift to the bank to withdraw the money.

But while they were away from the house, the pensioner’s worried neighbour called the police. Officers were waiting for McPhee on their return and arrested him before the householder handed over the cash.

McPhee, 39, of Redding Travellers’ Site, near Falkirk, was due to stand trial for fraud at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday. However, he changed his plea at the last minute and admitted a reduced charge of attempting to defraud his victim in Livingston on May 22, 2013.

His co-accused, Gareth McInnes, 36, of Grove Crescent, Falkirk, had his not guilty plea to the same charge accepted.

Catherine Knowles, prosecuting, said McPhee had “cold-called” at the property and offered to replace guttering and a facia for £350.

She said: “That was a reasonable price and the gentleman agreed for work to be carried out. The accused left the property and returned later with materials to carry out the work.

“The complainer was then informed that there was a further problem and the felt under the tiles needed to be repaired.

“An increase in the price to £480 was agreed.”

She said the pensioner wanted to pay by cheque but the accused refused and offered to drive him to a nearby bank. The householder was finally handed an invoice for £850 for the work.

Mrs Knowles said McPhee told police who detained him on his return to the house that he had a building company called GM Roofing which had been trading for six months, but investigations showed no such company was registered.

Mrs Knowles said a reputable joiner who was later asked by police to calculate how much the work should have cost estimated the bill at “about £100 at most”.

However, he said it would cost between £850 and £950 to repair the damage caused by McPhee, which he described as “a mess, really untidy, cheap looking and unprofessional”.

Sheriff Susan Craig called for background reports and a report by the Crown into the amount of compensation the victim was due.

McPhee, a father of three, will be sentenced on September 24.