Bosses get cut in prison terms

Rodney Stone, aged 64, of Bamford Avenue, North Wingfield, Chesterfield, jailed for unfair and aggressive sales techniques on elderly and vulnerable residents in the town.
Rodney Stone, aged 64, of Bamford Avenue, North Wingfield, Chesterfield, jailed for unfair and aggressive sales techniques on elderly and vulnerable residents in the town.

TWO BUSINESSMEN whose company bullied old people into buying mobility aids for up to 13 times the recommended price have had their sentences reduced on appeal.

REO Marketing Ltd director Rodney Stone and sales manager Geoffrey Moore presided over employees who subjected elderly people to four-hour long sales pitches for products.

Stone, 64, of Bamford Avenue, North Wingfield, Chesterfield, was jailed for three years and Moore, 48, of Prospect Road, Pilsley, Chesterfield, got four years at Derby Crown Court in November after they both admitted unfair and aggressive commercial practices.

But three judges cut both men’s jail terms by a third on Tuesday after ruling they should have been sentenced on the basis they “neglected their duty” rather than having an involvement in what their staff were doing.

Mr Justice Openshaw told London’s Court of Appeal REO’s sales team rang up elderly people claiming to be carrying out a “mobility survey” before sales people visited homes.

The judge gave examples of agents who told pensioners massage chairs would help conditions and they charged between three and 13 times recommended prices.

Agents tried to get up to £5,000 for chairs, but would knock down prices to around £1,000 during visits which could last up to four hours, the court heard.

The company raked in a £1.6m net turnover in 2010, before it was investigated by Trading Standards, the judge said.

Stone admitted 15 charges and Moore admitted nine, which Mr Justice Openshaw said related to a failure by an officer of the company to maintain, supervise or control subordinates.

He added: “It does not imply any direction or involvement in the misdeeds or misconduct, and does not relate to any dishonesty.”

Lawyers for Stone and Moore said they had been sentenced as if they were involved in aggressive selling rather than failing to reign in workers.

Mr Justice Openshaw agreed to cut Moore’s sentence to two and half years, and Stone’s to two years. He said offences were based on neglect of duty.