A convicted fraudster posed as a Government scambuster to trick an elderly woman out of £4,500, a court has heard.
Patrick Dean Cassidy, who is British but of Irish origin, was accused of targeting the 84-year-old woman after hearing she had already fallen victim to rogue traders who had promised to fix her garage.
Newport Crown Court heard he told the woman he could claim back the £9,000 she lost if she gave him half that amount up-front.
But he did not realise his alleged victim, who lived on her own in Llanishen, Cardiff, was “bright as a button” and had installed CCTV, which captured him talking to her on the doorstep.
Taking the stand today – exactly a year after the alleged fraud took place – 27-year-old Cassidy said he had been cold-calling in the area when he saw Anne Jackson needed work done on her garage.
But when she answered her door he said she became “confused” after hearing his Irish accent and thinking he was one of the fraudsters who had stolen her money.
He claimed he then told her to speak to trading standards, but giving evidence via video link earlier in the trial, Ms Jackson claimed Cassidy said he was from Scambusters, a Wales-wide team of trading standards and police officers aimed at stopping rogue trading.
In court, it emerged Cassidy, who gave his address as Greenway in Middlesex, has a previous conviction for a similar offence in Cardiff in 2009, when he scammed an 88-year-old man out of more than £1,000 after promising to do work on his driveway – although Cassidy claimed yesterday he only took the blame to protect his father, who had also been arrested and had a heart condition. And he claimed both he and his father had been innocent of the charge.
In cross-examination, prosecutor Tracey Lloyd-Nesling questioned Cassidy over how much he charged for his work on driveways, to which he replied, “£2 a metre”.
But when Ms Lloyd-Nesling asked him how he reached the figure of £2,500 for a new driveway in his 2009 scam, he replied: “To be honest with you I was mistaken, obviously, [in] saying £2 a metre.”
Ms Lloyd-Nesling said: “Going around people’s houses offering work and scamming the elderly: that’s what you do isn’t it?”
Cassidy replied: “No.”
In a rare intervention, Judge Patrick Curran QC ordered Cassidy’s supporters in the public gallery not to make contact with his defence witnesses during the lunch break.
He said: “Any person in the public gallery who speaks to one of these witnesses in the luncheon adjournment will be charged with Contempt of Court and sent to prison.”
Summing up the prosecution case in the afternoon, Ms Lloyd-Nestling told the jury the case was “really about ageism”.
“Don’t fall into the trap, ladies and gentlemen, of thinking that because she is [now] 85 years old she has not got all her mental facilities,” she said.
“She is an old lady but she’s bright as a button.
“This defendant knows about the work that was done and has turned up to have what is in effect a second bite of the cherry.”
Defending, Harry Baker said: “She knows that there are gaps in her recollection of that incident. I’m sorry to be ageist about it but we have to be realistic about these things.”
Cassidy denies one charge of fraud by false representation.