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Peter Swain charged Whitstable pensioner £54,000

By Paul Hooper

A cowboy builder, jailed for ripping off a Whitstable pensioner of more than £50,000, will have to cough up just £1!

Peter Swain was jailed for 34 months after over-charging for work done at the house in Chestfield.

It should have cost the 82-year-old victim around £2,600 but the conman charged him a whopping £54,000 although he later handed back £300 to his victim.

Peter Swain. Picture: Kent Police.
Peter Swain. Picture: Kent Police.

Now Swain, of Iffin Lane, Thanington Without, has been told he only has to repay a nominal quid because he doesn’t have any other assets.

After his jailing, the police launched a financial probe under the Proceeds of Crime Act to see if more money could be recovered from what he owns.

But a judge at Canterbury Crown Court heard today the Swain – who is still serving his sentence – didn’t have any recoverable assets.

Judge Adele Williams
Judge Adele Williams

The fraudster – who appeared by video link from Elmley Prison – had targeted the pensioner in May 2015, asking if he wanted his driveway cleaned.

The victim agreed and work began only for Swain to claim other work at the property needed doing.

Judge Adele Williams heard how the conman even took photographs to convince the pensioner that the repair work needed doing but never set a price.

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Swain told the man his name was Michael Tate and kept asking for more and more money to be paid into his bank account, eventually pocketing more than 20 times its value.

But the judge heard that when an expert was called in to undertake an in-depth report on the quality and value of the work, he decided if it had been done by an expert it should only have cost £2,682.

Swain – who claimed another builder he worked with had done all the quotes – has since repaid £300 to his victim.

Judge Williams told the builder, who admitted fraud by false representation: "You committed fraud on an old man, doing work on his property which was worth £2,600, and yet charging him £54,000.

"This man was vulnerable because of his age and anyone committing fraud in this way can expect nothing but an immediate jail sentence."

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