“Uncaring” businessmen jailed

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TWO “UNCARING” businessmen involved with north Derbyshire mobility aid firms have been jailed for five years each for taking advantage of elderly and disabled customers with pressurised sales tactics.

Leeds Crown Court heard today, August 3, how Vincent Watkinson and Timothy Wright, of Compass Mobility, on Derby Road, Clay Cross, and Reo Marketing, of Barker Road, Chesterfield, were previously found guilty by a trial jury of two counts each of conspiracy to defraud.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “The jury found you two conspired to defraud the elderly based on dishonesty with the deliberate targeting of those most vulnerable in society.

“It had a profound effect not only on many of those elderly but also on their relations. There was distress to elderly and infirm customers who signed just to get rid of the person in their home.”

Prosecuting barrister Deborah Sherwin said Watkinson and Wright had been behind a scam between 2008 and 2010 including high pressure selling from visiting sales staff who refused to leave customers’ homes for up to four hours.

Other methods outlined by Ms Sherwin and the judge included false claims about carrying out surveys, that staff were from social services, selling unsuitable items, failing to co-operate with attempted cancellations, and failing to explain finance agreement charges.

Ms Sherwin also said trading standards received complaints relating to at least £1m worth of sales.

Defence barrister Paul O’Shay said Watkinson had been ill and the business was not solely a vehicle for fraud.

Defence barrister Simon Thomas said Wright was a father- of-four and his imprisonment would leave his partner to care for his children.

Watkinson, 51, of Boythorpe Road, Chesterfield, and Wright, 47, of Goldcrest Drive, Spondon, Derby, were both found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to defraud with Compass and were both found guilty of another count each of conspiracy to defraud with Reo.

Judge Marson said an aggravating feature was that they committed offences with Reo while they were on bail.

He added: “You demonstrated a wholly arrogant and uncaring attitude. You showed not a jot of remorse.”

Fellow former Compass director John Higginson, 64, of Locko Road, Lower Pilsley, Chesterfield, previously pleaded guilty to seven counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice, two of engaging in a misleading omission and one of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice. His case has been adjourned until October for sentencing.

As he left court on bail, he said: “I think we all truly regret anything the victims suffered. I would certainly apologise.”

Scambusters trading standards team, who investigated the case was pleased with the outcome for Watkinson and Wright and hoped it will serve as a warning to others.