Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting EJ NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Rip-off builder has sentence slashed
2:00pm Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
A HEARTLESS cowboy builder who tried to con elderly and vulnerable victims out of “every single penny” they owned has had his sentence slashed.
Sydney Fletcher, of Waterloo Road, Bidford, pressured the elderly into handing over thousands of pounds in cash for jobs worth only a fraction of what he charged. He pocketed more than £400,000 in ill-gotten gains.
The 40-year-old was jailed for nine years and nine months at Warwick Crown Court in June after pleading guilty to nine counts of fraud.
But on Tuesday, three judges at London's Criminal Appeal Court reduced his prison term to seven years after ruling the original term “manifestly excessive”.
Describing Fletcher's crimes as “despicable”, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said: “He knew his elderly victims were vulnerable but in some cases set out to take every single penny that they had.”
Fletcher targeted frail, elderly people in towns such as Stratford, Alcester, Bidford and Evesham.
He would persuade them to pay for legitimate repairs but then complete part of the project or not finish it – while repeatedly demanding more cash for materials or additional work.
A 64-year-old Stratford man with pulmonary heart disease was charged £49,000 for renovations which should only have cost £1,655 and a widow was charged £12,175 for work worth £3,000.
Fletcher also dishonestly claimed £38,591 in income support and £12,615 in disability living allowance between 1999 and 2008.
Cutting his sentence, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said: “The [original] sentence was too high even for this appalling offending.”