Press release

Solicitor General welcomes sentence increase for fraudsters who preyed on elderly

North Yorkshire builders who defrauded elderly and vulnerable people out of large sums of money had their sentences increased today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The Court of Appeal has today found that the sentences handed to Monty David Croke and his son Monty Croke were unduly lenient and increased them by a total of 4 years after a reference by the Solicitor General.

Monty David Croke ran a business in North Yorkshire carrying out domestic building works and home repairs. His two sons, Monty and Billy, worked for him until Monty set up his own firm which was involved in the same trade.

Both businesses were used to defraud the elderly and vulnerable out of substantial sums of money. In several cases, the victims of the conspiracy were subjected to significant losses and this profit was laundered through the offenders’ bank accounts.

The offenders ran and/or worked for building companies. They would send out flyers or cold call potential customers in the hope of persuading them to agree to having work done. Not all customers were defrauded but some were pressured into agreeing to have work done; the work that was carried out was mostly unnecessary, of a poor standard and overcharged. The victims, deliberately targeted because of their age and vulnerable nature, were deceived into parting with substantial sums of money and the amounts on the cheques used to pay for the work were falsified.

Despite these matters being brought to the attention of the police and being arrested, David, Monty and Billy Croke continued to defraud customers and dissipated the money they had been paid by others, in breach of Restraining Orders imposed against them.

The sentences were today raised from 5 to 7 and-a-half years for Monty David Croke and from 30 months to 4 years for Monty Croke. Billy Croke’s sentence was not increased.

Speaking after the hearing, Solicitor General, Oliver Heald QC MP said:

This was a terrible case of elderly and vulnerable people being duped into accepting that repairs were needed on their homes, repairs that were entirely unnecessary and in fact the work that these fraudsters did on the homes of the victims actually made the state of the homes worse.

Older people who live alone are particularly vulnerable; they deserve our respect and should feel safe in society and in their own homes. The increase in today’s sentences sends out a clear message that this type of offence will be dealt with severely.

Background:

  • The 2 conspiracy counts covered the offenders’ dishonest dealings with all their victims. There were four principal victims, although Trading Standards also received complaints concerning 11 other victims who were also defrauded during an 8 year period.

  • In February they were sentenced before HHJ Briggs at the Crown Court in Teeside as follows:

  • Monty David Croke received 5 years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud; 5 years imprisonment (concurrent) for converting criminal property; 6 months imprisonment (concurrent) for contempt of court and 12 weeks imprisonment (concurrent) for breaching a suspended sentence.

  • Monty Croke received 30 months imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud; 30 months imprisonment (concurrent) for converting criminal property and 3 months imprisonment (concurrent) for contempt of court.

  • Billy Croke received 12 imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud; 12 months imprisonment (concurrent) for converting criminal property and 3 months imprisonment (concurrent) for contempt of court.

  • A co-conspirator (not part of this hearing) James Coverdale, received 15 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years for conspiracy to defraud; and 15 months imprisonment (concurrent) suspended for 2 years for converting criminal property and entering into an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property.

Published 16 May 2014