Rogue trader conned 89-year-old Colburn pesnioner out of life savings

David Mason.

A rogue trader who drove an 89-year-old Colburn pensioner to his bank nine times to take his life savings has been ordered to pay back more than £94,000.

David Mason, who faked the symptoms of a brain tumour to try and evade justice,  was convicted along with several other men in 2022 following a campaign of exploitation against vulnerable and elderly victims.

Mason, 43, was sentenced to a total of eight years and eight months, with a term of five years and eight months for conspiring to defraud and a further three years for perverting the course of justice.

At Teesside Crown Court, Mason and three other defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud 22 householders out of tens of thousands of pounds by carrying out shoddy repairs to homes between September 1, 2017, and October 18, 2018. On some occasions, work was not even performed, but victims were still charged.

On conviction, Mason, from Ingleby Barwick, near Middlesbrough, was made the subject of a confiscation order.

Under The Proceeds of Crime Act, investigators can use wide-ranging powers to uncover the benefits of criminality. This includes looking at bank accounts, property records and transactions for high-value items such as houses, cars, and jewellery.

The case returned to Teesside Crown Court today after an investigation by financial experts into Mason’s assets.

After hearing from barristers, Recorder Thomas Moran ordered that Mason must repay a total of £94,019.93, of which £56,072.59 will go to the victims in the case. Mason must pay the amount within three months or face an additional 18 months in prison.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for trading standards, Cllr Greg White, said: “While the impact of the gang’s crimes will live with the victims forever, this order at least means they will receive some financial compensation.

“What Mason and his co-defendants did was despicable, and he was rightly jailed. But this was not the end of the case for our trading standards team. Ensuring that he did not benefit from his wrongdoing was very important and I am glad to say we have succeeded in that endeavour.

“Anyone who seeks to take advantage of residents in North Yorkshire and beyond needs to know that this will not be tolerated, and we will use all the resources available to us to not only bring them to justice, but make sure they do not profit from their crimes.”

Offences were carried out at properties in North Yorkshire, York, Cleveland, and Durham, and one of the victims, an 89-year-old man from Colburn, was driven to his bank nine times and made to withdraw his life savings in cash totalling £23,950.

The case was further complicated when Mason faked the symptoms of a brain tumour, causing the first trial to be abandoned in September 2021 after seven weeks, ramping up the stress on victims who had been called to give evidence.

That led to a complex inquiry, involving a prolonged period of surveillance work by council trading standards officers who worked alongside police to prove Mason had lied.

Mason was arrested after covert observations established that he had been running a second-hand car dealership with his wife, since the first trial collapsed. The property’s closed-circuit television system showed he had not demonstrated any symptoms since the trial was abandoned.

The head of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Economic Crime Unit, part of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YHROCU), Ramona Senior, said: “The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit is committed to working with partner agencies to ensure those who cause harm to our communities are brought to justice.

“These offenders, motivated entirely by financial gain, preyed on the elderly and vulnerable without any care or concern for the impact or harm their offending caused.

“The sentences imposed by the court reflect the seriousness of these offences. In addition, we relentlessly pursue the recovery of the proceeds of crime – our priority is to compensate the victims in this case.

“This investigation demonstrates the successes achieved when agencies and policing work in partnership to tackle regional offending.”

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