A young conman who tried to defraud an “elderly and frail” pensioner out of £2,500 has narrowly avoided a prison sentence.
James Townsley, 21, told the 82-year-old Scone resident, who has a wooden leg, that he needed work on his home, including replacing part of the roof and repairing woodworm damage, at a cost of £2,500.
Surveyors later said the work was not necessary and the quote given by Townsley was “grossly excessive”.
Townsley, of Marshall Crescent, Luncarty, also left a 2m hole in the man’s roof.
At Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday, Sheriff William Wood said Townsley’s clean record helped him dodge a prison sentence.
“You took advantage of an 82-year-old elderly and frail gentleman,” he said.
“It seems to me that this is a case that a custodial sentence might be warranted but you are a young man with no previous convictions.”
Instead, Sheriff Wood ordered Townsley to complete 135 hours of community service and to pay his victim £100 to cover the excess charged by his insurance company to fix the hole.
At a previous hearing, Townsley admitted telling the man his roof had loose slates, woodworm and rot, and attempting to get him to pay £2,500 for unnecessary work. He also attempted to obtain the money by fraud, between November 26 and 30 last year.
He was admonished of a second charge of failing to supply a notice of the resident’s right to cancel the contract.
Defence solicitor Jamie Baxter said Townsley had “accepted responsibility” for the crime and that he was not qualified to carry out the work.
Until the incident, he had been carrying out “low level” repairs and roof cleaning.
He now works with his father in the car trading business.
“Some of the work was required,” added Mr Baxter.
Previously, the court heard that Townsley arrived at the house with a partner, whose not guilty plea was accepted by the Crown, and gave an initial quote of £600, which was then upped to £2,500.