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Hartlepool rogue traders in court

Rogue traders pleaded guilty to scamming vulnerable people Credit: PA

A gang of rogue traders have pleaded guilty to two charges of consumer fraud after scamming vulnerable people in Hartlepool.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the three men drove an elderly dementia sufferer to a cash point to withdraw money - then abandoned him when they realised he had forgotten his bank card.

Prosecutor Ian West said the 81-year-old man handed over £60 for roofing work which was never done, then driven a mile to Linthorpe Village where he was just left.

A witness who was working on a nearby school saw the three men pull up in the hire van and approach the pensioner's home - and took down the number plate.

He watched as one of the scammers climbed onto the roof and simply sat on the ridge tiles for ten minutes before coming down and ask for his money.

Mr West told Recorder Eric Elliott, QC: "Again not a joy of work was done on the house . . . he was just abandoned there and left to make his own way home."

On another occasion last summer, the court heard that the bogus roofers charged an 84-year-old woman £250 for work on the guttering to her home which was never carried out.

Michael Gales, 26, Lee Davidson, 29, and Phillip Orton, 53, hired vans "week after week" to travel around looking for work.

Prosecutor Ian West said they targeted vulnerable people, and the younger two men "used Orton as a commodity" because he had a driving licence.

They pleaded guilty to two charges of consumer fraud.

Orton, of Windermere Road, Davidson, of Shelley Grove, and Gales, of Brenda Road, were all remanded in custody last night by Mr Recorder Elliott.

Mr West said: "These two offences, committed a month apart, were committed by the group. They had been hiring vans from the same company week after week.

"The Crown say there is an element of targeting here . . . Orton made admissions in his interview that he had been driving the others around knowing they were up to no good."

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Hartlepool confirm Andrew Boyce loan deal

Ronnie Moore has confirmed the signing of Andrew Boyce on a one-month loan deal from Scunthorpe United.

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The 25-year-old centre-back will go straight into the Hartlepool squad for their game at Stevenage this weekend, August 22nd.

Urgent appeal to trace missing Damien Vokes

Police are urgently trying to trace the whereabouts of 37-year-old Damien Vokes, who was last seen on Lindsay Road in Hartlepool last night.

The last sighting of Damien was last seen more than 12 hours ago and he is thought to be extremely vulnerable.

He is described as tall with short brown hair, blue eyes and very slim build and he was last seen wearing a blue coat, black jeans and a grey/blue t-shirt with orange stripes on the shoulders.

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Baby injured in Hartlepool shopping centre incident

A seven-week-old baby boy has needed hospital treatment after an incident in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

The infant was being pushed in his pram through the centre in Hartlepool at around 4pm on Monday 20th July.

A large cup containing cola and ice cubes landed in the pram, hitting the baby.

His parents took him to the University Hospital of North Tees where he was kept in overnight but did not receive any long-lasting injury.

Cleveland Police officers are looking into the circumstances of what happened and want witnesses to come forward.

Canoe fraudsters now have 'no known assets'

Back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne now have no known assets after his £40,000 pension was seized, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne, who now have no known assets after his £40,000 pension was seized. Credit: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The couple, who faked his death in the North Sea 13 years ago, allowing her to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in life insurance payouts, have now repaid £541,762.39p.

While John hid in the martial home in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, Anne pretended to be a grieving widow, fooling even their two sons.

The couple then moved to Panama to start a new life.

But their story unravelled when John returned to the UK, claiming to have amnesia, in December 2007.

The Darwins were eventually prosecuted for fraud and were jailed in 2008.

The couple, who have since split, have been subject to Proceeds of Crime hearings.

She has repaid more than £500,000 while the £40,000 he paid in July last year from his pension meant he no longer had any assets.

Following his conviction, the court found that John, 64, had benefited by £679,194, but having pretended to be dead, all assets were in his wife's name.

The court therefore made an order for £1 allowing the CPS to amend the order should any assets, such as this pension, become available.

"The Darwins now have no known assets remaining for confiscation. When John Darwin devised his plan to defraud insurance companies, he didn't think he'd get caught at all. But he also didn't bank on the dedication and determination of my team to recover the money he stole - even seven years later. This case really shows that fraud doesn't pay. My thanks also go to police colleagues in the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team for their hard work."

– Nick Price, Crown Prosecution Service

Angela Wrightson murder trial: home a 'bomb site'

Angela Wrightson

The trial of two teenage girls accused of murdering a woman in her home in Hartlepool has heard the first paramedic to arrive on the scene said it was like a bomb site.

Teesside Crown Court has heard that thirty nine year old Angela Wrightson had suffered more than a 100 separate injuries.

The jury was also told there was evidence she had tried to defend herself and that she'd been restrained.

The girls, aged 14 and 15, both deny the charges.

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