Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

Gran spent final months 'humiliated' after scam by cowboy builders

Grandmother, 82, dying of cancer spent final months ‘humiliated’ and ‘ashamed’ after being scammed out of £8,500 by cowboy builders – who conned another man by using tile from neighbour’s roof for repairs

  • Steve Bray said his mother Ellen tried to hide the fact that she had been conned

A grandmother dying of cancer spent her final months ‘humiliated’ and ‘ashamed’ after being scammed out of £8,500 by cowboy builders who used the cash to buy luxury cars, her heartbroken son said today.

Steve Bray told MailOnline that his 82-year-old mother Ellen Bray had try to hide the fact that she had been conned out of her savings to fix a simple hole in their roof.

But his father John eventually told him the truth while caring for Mrs Bray as her mind and body became ravaged by bone cancer. She died just before Christmas last year.

Rogue traders Matty Rossiter, 18, James Rossiter, 25, and Dean Smith, 21, – who had made at least £45,000 ripping off customers – have been jailed for a combined eight years.

The trio filmed themselves bragging about fleecing Mr and Mrs Bray while working on their bungalow in Calne, Wiltshire in 2020.

The couple gave them a cheque for £2000 up front and then drew out £6,500 in cash afterwards after one of the men had knocked on their door earlier in the day and told them they had a leak, which they could fix for just £40.

Ellen had try to hide the fact that she had been conned out of her savings (pictured with her husband John)

Steven, 53, blasted the men as ‘despicable’ as he told how they flaunted their ill -gotten gains by splashing out on a lavish lifestyle

Matty Rossiter, 18, James Rossiter, 25, and Dean Smith , 21, (left to right) have all been jailed

Their son Steven, 53, blasted the men as ‘despicable’ as he told how they flaunted their ill -gotten gains by splashing out on a lavish lifestyle.

He said: ‘What makes me sick is that while my mum took the shame she felt at being conned to her grave, these scum bags were living a life of luxury.

‘I found out from Trading Standards that Matty Rossiter, the youngest of the three and only 18-years-old, was driving around in a brand new top-of-the range Mercedes just before he was caught.

‘My mum always prided herself on being quite sharp and shooing away anyone she felt was trying to take advantage of her and dad.

‘They lived on a quiet estate mainly populated by elderly people so there were always chancers knocking on the doors trying to drum up work that didn’t need to be done.

‘It was just that – unbeknownst to anyone at the time – my mum had bone cancer and the calcium imbalance in her body was starting to affect her cognitive ability and judgement.

‘So when these lads called round and said they could fix the roof for a simple sum she wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

‘Of course when they got up there, they found more and more faults. They’d obviously been ripping off tiles themselves to make the problem seem worse and more expensive.

‘My dad ended up talking mum into it because he felt that as they were both of advanced years and they wanted to pass on the bungalow to me and my sister when they were gone, they didn’t want it to be a money pit that needed major renovation.

‘They paid £2000 up front to these lads who were only up on the roof a matter of hours before they were asking for another £6,500.’

The group mock John Bray in his own garden as they ripped him off for £8,000. Matty Rossiter put his arm around him – while someone filming him from the roof declared: ‘We find guys like this every day’

The criminals bragged that they were ‘bodging’ with just a few new tiles and some pointing – but charging victims a fortune 

Steve, who runs a data networking distribution centre from his home in Hampshire, said he was pleased justice had been done and the trio were jailed.

He added: ‘My mum felt humiliated and ashamed and even when she was slipping away mentally and couldn’t recognise anyone I could see in her eyes that she still felt that deep sense of regret and shame. It haunted her to her grave. She never kept secrets from me but she felt unable to tell me what had happened.

‘She had been a shrewd woman, someone who wouldn’t ordinarily let people hoodwink her, but for a cruel twist of fate these men struck at the right time when her faculties were diminishing.

‘And my father still feels guilt now over talking mum into it. He’s also embarrassed that they filmed him and mocked him. I was angry as well but I’m actually glad now as that video helped to nail them.

‘Mum and dad did nothing wrong, they were exploited by three disgusting individuals who are now paying the price.

‘I hope when these three do get out of jail, they never work on the building trade again so can’t wheedle any more money out of vulnerable people.’

Steve’s father John now lives in a retirement flat in Calne and, through Wiltshire Trading Standards, is seeking some sort of compensation

Steve said his parents had to pay another builder £600 to fix the damage carried out by the rogue builders.

His father now lives in a retirement flat in Calne and, through Wiltshire Trading Standards, is seeking some sort of compensation.

Matty and James Rossiter, both of Minety, in Wiltshire, admitted fraud by false representation and participating in a fraudulent business.

Matty Rossiter was jailed for two years and three months while James Rossiter was jailed for three years and four months.

Dean Smith, of Aldermaston, Berkshire was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to participating in a fraudulent business.

The three of them made £45,000 from crimes committed in at least 18 properties across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Bristol between October 2020 and March 2021.

They used multiple business names varying by county, including Southern Homecare, Chippenham Roofing, Skyline Roofing, Wiltshire Roofing and Yate Roofing.

Footage of them mocking Mr Bray was submitted as evidence to Swindon Crown Court.

One of the men says: ‘As you can see we’re doing some roofing work here. We’re doing some bodging.

‘As you see, what we’re doing is we are in some bungalows.

”We’ve got two vans on the go – and as you can see, the guy we’re working for, he’s really old.’

The individual then called down to Mr Bray and said: ‘John, we’re having quite a lot of money for this, aren’t we? So we want to do you a good job. It’s worth doing right, isn’t it?

‘It’s your home, you need to live in it. So you don’t want any more problems on the roof after we’re gone, do you?’

The camera then turns to look at the badly repaired roof, before the cameraman added: ‘As you can see here, we don’t need to pay thousands for advertisement.

‘It’s on the door-to-door knocking, what I’ve done for all my life, and we find guys like this every day. The door-to-door knocking. It’s the way forward.’

A chartered surveyor called the work ‘ abysmal according to Wiltshire Trading Standards.

It was ‘carried out with no attendant skill or competence’ and ‘probably without the use of appropriate hand tools’.

Judge Jason Taylor told them: ‘Your arrogance is notable. There was significant planning. You knew the bungalows you targeted would be occupied by the elderly.’

Steve spoke out as another victim of the cowboy builders revealed he lost £3,000 when they ‘fixed’ his roof with a tile stolen from neighbours.

Stuart Dye, 77, paid upfront for the work to get the roof repaired on his four-bed detached home. 

But when he went to inspect the work he discovered what he described as a ‘complete mess’ – and says he later realised a tile had been taken from his neighbour’s garage to put on his own.

Mr Dye said he felt sickened at watching footage of those responsible filming themselves ‘botching’ another job while bragging about ripping off an elderly victim.

The end ridge tile missing from Mr Dye’s neighbour’s roof – he says the builders took it to replace one on his roof

Mr Dye, said he came forward after watching the video that had been filmed to help build the case against them.

He added: ‘A few months after the job I was watching the news and I saw these three on the video mocking the poor man.

‘I rang police on the helpline and just said I know them. They were laughing at this elderly gentlemen and it just sickened me. To see them stoop so low and take advantage of someone so vulnerable.

‘It is disgusting – I felt so sorry for him.’

Mr Dye said he was now waiting for the legal process to determine how much, if any, of his money he will get back.

And he said he was caught ‘off guard’ by the trio and felt ’embarrassed’ to have been conned by them.

Stuart Dye, 77, lost £3k in a ‘shoddy’ job – pictured is dodgy roof work on the property

Other photos showing the ‘dodgy’ work done to Mr Dye’s roof 

Read more: Cowboy builders who made £45,000 conning elderly homeowners laugh as they rip off customer 

He added: ‘I checked with other local builders and messaged them but none were answering their phone. Eventually I got this one Yates Roofing from the internet. They had a nice-looking website so I phoned up and they came two days later and said they’d do the job.

‘I paid them upfront, which was a stupid thing to do, and left them to it.

‘I went out and what a mess they had made of the garage. Instead of taking tiles off they had just put a coating of cement over it. They had stolen a tile off my neighbour’s garage. They just broke it off their roof and put on mine.

‘It was so brazen. As soon as I had seen the work I realised I had made a big mistake. I told them ‘your work is atrocious’ and I want my money back. They just said ‘fat chance of that’.

‘I told them I am taking this further and I would not allow them to do any more work on my house.’

Mr Dye said his builders came in a new van and ‘looked professional and seemed to know what they were doing.’

He then went to their registered premises in Yate and found it was fictitious and they had advertised under a number of different names.

He added: ‘Their behaviour was friendly, not aggressive and not heavy handed. It made me feel stupid and embarrassed I had fallen for an obvious con trick.

‘I am very grateful they were pursued. These people want stopping and the only way is a decent custodial sentence and stripping their assets. I wouldn’t class myself as vulnerable but they do prey on those kinds of people. I was just caught off guard.

‘I am even more untrusting now and on guard all the time now. It makes you realise how easily you can get caught out.’

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