Rogue trader on TV show Builders from Hell who conned OAP out of life savings must repay £260k

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A VILE conman who appeared on TV show Builders From Hell has finally been ordered to pay back £260,000 after swindling an elderly lady out of her life savings.

John Hart, now 64, and three other men targeted the 88-year-old victim, taking £120k for poor-quality and unnecessary work at her home in rural Dorset.

Tragically, the woman died before the case came to court – although a judge has ordered the money be paid into her estate.

Boxing coach Hart, the ringleader of the scam, was already serving a prison sentence for a similar con on an elderly victim before he was jailed for the crime in 2017.

Police were alerted to the fraud in 2015 when concerned workers at the victim’s bank called 999.

They discovered the victim had paid £56,400 to Hart for work that wasn’t needed, and a further £24,054 for work that was either poor quality, or completely unnecessary.

Experts then found the woman had paid out the cash for roof repairs, insulation, damp proofing, and general garden and house improvements at wildly inflated prices.

Before he was dealt with for the cruel deception, Hart went on the run as he faced a trial for fleecing another pensioner, a man from Swindon, out of tens of thousands of pounds.

The trial went ahead anyway – and jurors convicted him after hearing he’d smashed a hole in a ceiling at the Wiltshire property to make more work for himself.

But Hart later turned himself in, and was jailed for five years.

Weeks later, a judge sitting at Bournemouth Crown Court then handed him another six years and four months behind bars for the Dorset fraud.

And this week Hart, formerly of Hannington Place in Pokesdown, Bournemouth, has been ordered to pay out £266,185.

It comes after a court heard he’s made £558,458 through criminal activity.

However, in a twist, it was revealed that around £230,000 of the money Hart has to pay back has gone missing.

Prosecutors say the defendant was diagnosed with dementia last year.

He withdrew the huge sum from his bank – but the money has disappeared and Hart can’t remember what’s happened to it, the court heard.

Despite that, a judge says Hart must repay the full amount in three months – or face another two-and-a-half years in prison.

Alan Wooller, senior supervisor for Dorset Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “We are continuing our enquiries to account for the whereabouts of the £230,000 withdrawn from Hart’s bank account.

“I would urge anyone with information that can assist with this to contact us.”

Hart’s accomplices, Daniel Baker, Philip Budden and Daniel Sherwood, all from Bournemouth, were also handed prison sentences for their part in the scam in 2017.

Anyone with information on Hart’s missing cash is asked to contact Dorset Police via dorset.police.uk, quoting occurrence number 55150054017.

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