Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Cowboys Who Would Not Give Up - Even When They Were out on Bail; Rogue Team Preyed on Vulnerable

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Cowboys Who Would Not Give Up - Even When They Were out on Bail; Rogue Team Preyed on Vulnerable

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB KENNEDY Court Reporter

DESPICABLE rogue traders exploited the elderly and vulnerable by fleecing them out of thousands of pounds in a series of cruel scams.

Jimmy Nicholson led a team of conmen who advertised themselves as above board gardeners but were actually lowlife criminals.

Scheming cowboy Nicholson and sidekick Andrew Kane carried out botched or unnecessary work across Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland, pocketing thousands and leaving victims traumatised.

One 77-year-old woman was even repeatedly driven to the bank and made to withdraw PS14,000 for the heartless crooks.

A judge branded the offending "deplorable" and "persistent, determined dishonesty" after it emerged the brazen pair continued preying on victims even while on bail.

Police have urged anyone who recognises them and thinks they may have fallen victim to the fraudsters to get in touch.

Now Nicholson has been locked up, despite pleading for his freedom and dropping to his knees when told he was going to prison, while Kane walked free.

Recorder Tim Roberts QC, at Newcastle Crown Court, said: "All of these offences indicate a pattern of practised deceit and deception.

"You were determined and persistent in defrauding the public wherever you could."

The court heard Nicholson was running businesses under various names, including Oakland Trees and Bushes, and Woodland Tree Services and Driveway Cleaning, both based in Ashington.

He would target areas by dropping leaflets through doors purporting to be from a legitimate and trustworthy firm.

The vulnerable 77-year-old victim, who lived alone on Cherry Tree Drive, Bedlington, Northumberland, rang a number on one of the leaflets and asked Nicholson to do some work in her front garden, in July 2014.

A number of men attended, including Nicholson and Kane, and pressure was soon put on the pensioner to have further work carried out.

Despite having promised her she wouldn't have to pay anything until they were finished, Nicholson then started to demand cash which he claimed was for materials to do some block paving.

The thief even drove her to the bank on four occasions, once with Kane, to make large withdrawals. In the space of less than a fortnight, they made her take out PS2,800, PS3,500, PS4,500 and PS3,000.

Nicholson wrote down the amount she was to withdraw on each visit to the bank and she handed the piece of paper to the cashier.

An expert later calculated the actual value of the work done to be no more than PS2,800.

Within three weeks of the last visit to the bank, the woman suffered a stroke, which prosecutors said was not connected to her being defrauded. After her admission to hospital, her daughter found some paperwork and noticed the suspicious withdrawals of large sums. …

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