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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Tom Seaward & Chiara Fiorillo

Couple scammed out of £77,000 by cowboy builders for a job that should cost just £1,000

A couple were scammed out of almost £80,000 by cowboy builders for a job that should cost around £1,000, a court heard.

Professor Nigel Wilson and his wife Dr Hanneke Wilson were conned after having some roof repairs done at their home.

Rogue builders asked the couple for cash to be transferred to their bank accounts, with costs spiralling in January 2020.

By the time the couple's financial adviser demanded more rigorous paperwork from the firm "Oxfordshire Roofing Company" and put a stop to further payments, the crooks had got away with £77,000.

Professor Wilson, an expert on Byzantine history and a retired classics professor at Lincoln College, and his wine expert wife had already asked for a detailed breakdown of costs and their suggestion that a surveyor should be brought in was described as "unfair", the court heard.

The huge sum was transferred into Douglas Dawson's Barclays bank account, the court heard (Oxford Mail / SWNS)

Giving evidence at Oxford Crown Court this week, Prof Wilson told the jury he decided to pay out the eye-watering sum as he trusted the workers.

He explained: "One might say it was a bit of a lapse, but one does tend to take people on trust until one has some reason to doubt their credibility."

A building expert later found the building works – which included roofing works – were worth barely more than £1,000.

The huge sum was transferred into Douglas Dawson's Barclays bank account, the court heard.

The 25-year-old scaffolder, of Hornbeam Way, Waltham Cross, was tracked down by Trading Standards financial investigators.

He was interviewed at Hertford police station in November 2020.

Rogue builders charged Mr Wilson and his wife £7,000 (Stock photo) (Getty Images)

Sitting alongside his solicitor, he answered no comment to all questions put to him – and refused to allow the council officers access to his bank statements.

However, after council officers got access through his bank, his statements showed large sums being paid in by the Wilsons, the majority of which was taken out in cash.

Of the £75,000 transferred in - including £2,000 given in cash as a "deposit" to secure the scaffolding - £69,900 was withdrawn in January and February, the court heard.

Dawson was also said to have been one of three men sent to dismantle scaffolding from the Victorian property in Allam Street in April.

Prof Wilson, who said he thought the men were a "trifle surprised" he had asked for their van registration number, managed to get a picture of the three workmen.

The Trading Standards officer who interviewed Dawson seven months later identified one of the photographed scaffolders as the defendant.

Giving evidence in his own defence, Dawson told jurors that the man he referred to as "the builder" said he had problems with his bank account and asked to pay money into the scaffolder's account.

He then withdrew sums in cash and gave it to "the builder" when he saw him at the next job.

The balance that was not withdrawn in cash was payment for scaffolding jobs, he claimed.

Dawson told his barrister he had no suspicion the money was "criminal property" and denied involvement in any fraud at the Jericho property.

The scaffolder acknowledged he had kept no paper records or provided invoices.

Prof Wilson gave evidence at Oxford Crown Court this week (BPM MEDIA)

“I'm just a normal bloke,” he said. “I'm not going through rules and regulations like health and safety.” He added: “I should, but I don’t.”

Dawson’s barrister Charles Royle said: “This isn’t Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing on Ice or anything you vote for – I’m a Celebrity.

''You don’t choose who you prefer. You are deciding a very different question: are you sure of guilt?”

Jurors at Oxford Crown Court returned guilty verdicts to charges of entering into a money laundering arrangement, acquiring criminal property and converting criminal property.

Judge Nigel Daly bailed Dawson to return to court on March 13 for sentencing.

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