A bogus workman, who targeted elderly people in Fife then conned and bullied them out of thousands, has been jailed.
James Peacock lied that he would carry out roofing repairs then threatened his victims until they paid up.
Peacock, 39, chose vulnerable people and bullied them into giving him more and more money even though work was never done, Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard.
One victim was an 81-year-old man whose wife had recently died and who relied on meals-on-wheels.
Peacock repeatedly returned to the man’s home, walking in uninvited, shouting and demanding money. Emergency services were eventually alerted and the distressed man was found sobbing in his home and taken to hospital.
Another victim was a 72-year-old man living alone and undergoing chemotherapy for cancer when he lost out on £2,300.
Depute fiscal Dev Kapadia said Peacock turned up “every other day” demanding money.
Peacock gave false names to the ‘customers’ and used the money to feed his cocaine habit at a time when he was on benefits.
The court was unable to make compensation orders for the victims because Peacock apparently has no money left. His technique was to cold call at homes and offer to clear gutters for a small fee. He would then tell the victims they needed roofing repairs and begin squeezing as much as possible out of them.
Peacock, 39, formerly of Elder Place, Rosyth, and latterly living at Dundonald Park, Cardenden, appeared from custody for sentencing.
He previously admitted a catalogue of offences which stretched from February last year until this September.
Defence solicitor James Moncrieff said: “These are not pleasant offences to put it mildly and little can be said in mitigation. He himself says he is disgusted by his behaviour. There is a background of drink and drugs misuse. He had started taking cocaine.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown told Peacock: “For pensioners, perhaps on a fixed low income, this type of crime can lead to long-term deprivation and poverty. The public disapproves very strong of this offending and the court equally so.”
Jailing him for 17 months, he pointed out that his sentencing was restricted by the fact that the Crown had brought the case under summary rather than solemn procedure, where longer terms of custody would have been possible.