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East Surrey crime gang members jailed
12:53pm Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Local News
Three members of an East Surrey crime gang with “an abhorrent lack of humanity” have been jailed for conning elderly people out of tens of thousands of pounds.
The three from Redhill, Horley and Leatherhead, were sentenced to a total of seven years in prison at Guildford Crown Court last Friday (February 15) for their part in the cons.
A fourth defendant, Emma Stevenson, 33, of Brook Road, Merstham, was given a nine month prison term suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 140 hours unpaid work. She had previously admitted one charge of converting criminal property.
A fifth defendant, a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to a year in a Young Offenders Institute, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a sixth defendant - David Sanderson, 39, of Brook Road, Merstham – who failed to appear in court after previously pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to convert criminal property.
The six, who Surrey Police described as an “organised crime group,” carried out their cons on elderly residents across Surrey and Kent, and in London. The police investigation followed a string of reports involving elderly victims from areas including Reigate, Whyteleafe, Oxted, Coulsdon, and Sevenoaks in Kent. The elderly residents had been deceived into believing large scale building work was needed on their homes. But Surrey Police said that the gang had obtained around £100,000 from their victims with little or no work being carried out. The Force's Cross Border Investigation Team worked closely with the Reigate and Banstead Safer Neighbourhood Team and Surrey County Council Surrey Trading Standards Service to track down the six. At Guildford last Friday, Albert Eastwood, 39, of Denton Close, Redhill, was sentenced to three and a half years, and John Eastwood, 42, of Ermyn Close, Leatherhead, was sentenced to two years after they admitted one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Paul Sanderson, 41, of Sarel Way, Horley, was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, following a trial in January, and was handed an 18-month jail term. Surrey Police launched an investigation in February 2010 following a report that an elderly Reigate man had paid out £36,000 in five cheques for building work at his property. The people involved had poorly painted one layer of white paint across his ceiling, but had failed to return to carry out any further work. The victim died shortly after the report was made to the police.
Surrey County Council's Trading Standards Service, working with Surrey Police's Cross Border Investigation Team and Reigate Safer Neighbourhood Team, reviewed similar incidents and made enquiries to identify those responsible.
The cheques were traced to the accounts of members of the Sanderson family in Merstham. Further investigation into their accounts led officers to four other victims in Surrey, one victim in Kent, and another victim in Coulsdon.
David Sanderson, his wife Emma Stevenson, and brother Paul Sanderson, were arrested in July 2011, following the execution of warrants at their homes in Brook Road, Merstham, and Sarel Way, Horley. Forensic enquiries made into property which had been left in one of the victim's lofts, led to the arrest of brothers Albert Eastwood and John Eastwood in September 2011. The 17-year-old boy was arrested in October 2011. The three were later positively identified by one of the victims.
Detective Constable Paul Constable of Surrey Police's Cross Border Investigation Team, said: "These heartless individuals deliberately targeted elderly residents, charging them well over the odds for work they never intended to complete.” Det Con Constable said: "Unfortunately, the initial victim passed away in the early stages of the investigation, and it is thanks to the tenacity of Trading Standards officers and the work of Inspector Richard Haycock and his officers in Reigate and Banstead Safer Neighbourhood Team that we were able to bring this prosecution. "I hope the sentence handed to these offenders sends a message that the police and courts will not tolerate those who exploit other people's vulnerabilities for their own gain.”
Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "This gang of organised criminals are where they belong - behind bars.”
Coun Hammond said: “To first gain the trust of an elderly person and then con them out of £36,000 in return for painting one coat of paint on a ceiling, shows an abhorrent lack of humanity. I'm pleased we could play a part in catching these crooks. "Our advice is never deal with cold calling doorstep traders. If you need a tradesperson to carry out work, visit http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ where you can find people vetted and approved by trading standards.”
Detectives are appealing for any sightings of David Sanderson, or anyone with information on his whereabouts, to call Surrey Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.