A rogue trader who is currently serving a prison sentence for conning scores of people out of money was back in court yesterday for targeting a “vulnerable elderly gentleman”.
Henry Douglas, from Flush Park in Lisburn, was due to stand trial on a charge of fraud by false representation.
However, after consulting with his legal team, Douglas’s barrister asked that he be re-arraigned on the single charge.
The 52-year old – who was handed a prison sentence in May and branded a cynical conman who exploited his victim’s difficulties – pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud, which occurred on September 6 last year.
He was handed a 21-month sentence, half of which will be spent in prison with the remaining half of the sentence on supervised licence upon his release from custody.
During a previous court hearing, it emerged that Douglas advertised his services to fix household electrical equipment in the Yellow Pages. He then called out to those who responded to his advert, and after they handed over money for spare parts that he identified were needed, he would disappear with their money.
Belfast Crown Court heard that the victim from last September – an elderly man from Enniskillen – was able to identify the man who conned him out of £40 after reading an article about Douglas in a newspaper.
A Crown prosecutor said that on September 5, 2013, the pensioner responded to the advert in the Yellow Pages. He rang a mobile number and spoke to a man who called himself ‘Gordon’ about coming out and fixing his cooker.
The following day, two men called at the man’s home – one of whom identified himself as Gordon.
The men looked at the cooker and told the pensioner a part needed to be replaced which would cost £40.
The pensioner handed the money over, but Gordon and the other man didn’t return to the house with the part and the cooker was never fixed.
The elderly victim tried calling the number from the advert a number of times, and when he finally got through he was told Gordon had lost his details but he had the part.
Gordon told the man he would return, but he didn’t, and around a week later the pensioner contacted police.
A few weeks later, the pensioner saw an article in a newspaper about Douglas.
The prosecutor said: “He recognised Mr Douglas as being ‘Gordon’.”
Douglas was arrested, and subsequently admitted a charge of fraud by false representation.
Defence barrister Peter Coiley said Douglas had “seen the error of his ways”.
Telling Douglas that the victim was a “vulnerable elderly gentleman”, Judge David McFarland spoke of his past convictions for similar offences before handing him the 21-month sentence.