Ellesmere Port man jailed for 50 weeks for duping vulnerable pensioner

11 February 2020

An Ellesmere Port man has been jailed for 50 weeks for duping a vulnerable 80-year-old pensioner out of thousands of pounds.

Phillip Purcell, (29), of Princess Road, Ellesmere Port, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud at West Cheshire Magistrates Court last week.  Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standards team brought the case to court.

In June 2018, the defendant visited the Chester home of Mr Gerard Brennan, an 80-year-old with dementia, and persuaded him to have his roof power- washed, his front step repointed and some windows painted, at the inflated price of £1,150.

CCTV evidence analysed by investigators showed that the defendant subsequently drove Mr Brennan to his bank in Chester for him to withdraw the money.

Mr Brennan was driven to his bank on a second occasion in July 2018 to withdraw cash for more work the defendant had persuaded him to have done. Again, the price was grossly inflated to £2,800 for what were minor jobs with a value of no more than about £600.

Prosecuting for the Council, Ian Moore told the court that the cashier at the Halifax Bank who served Mr Brennan on the second occasion noted how confused and vulnerable he appeared and refused to serve him. The cashier called the manager who then called the police. 

The police arrested the defendant, who was in his van in the Iceland car park, waiting for Mr Brennan.

The court was shown CCTV evidence for both of the defendant’s trips to Chester with Mr Brennan. The CCTV showed the defendant’s van coming into Chester and Mr Brennan going to his bank. The CCTV also showed Mr Brennan in his bank on both occasions.

The court was told the defendant was on licence from a six-year jail sentence imposed by Wolverhampton Crown Court when he committed the offences and had a lengthy list of other convictions.

In sentencing the defendant to fifty weeks imprisonment, District Judge Sanders said it was “appalling behaviour” and “beyond the pale” and that the defendant could not go around preying on vulnerable people like this.

The judge also ordered the defendant to pay compensation to Mr Brennan by the end of 2020.

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “This type of activity will not be tolerated in Cheshire West and Chester.  Our Regulatory Services officers work hard to protect residents in the borough from scammers and other unscrupulous individuals and banks and building societies train their staff on how to spot and prevent exploitation. I hope the outcome of this case sends a message to anyone considering such a cruel crime.”

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