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Bogus Roofer Who Conned York and Selby Elderly Sentenced

Donovan Clough 130613

2:20pm 13th June 2013

A bogus roofer who ripped off at least 18 victims in a 14-month campaign in York and Selby has been handed a four-year sentence following a case brought by City of York Council Trading Standards, with the support of North Yorkshire Trading Standards Service and North Yorkshire Police. 

Donovan Ross Morley Clough (aged 22) has been convicted of 18 offences including two of operating a fraudulent business under the Fraud Act at York Crown Court today, 13 June 2013. Besides his four-year sentence, he was also given a 10-year criminal-related anti social behaviour order, which prevents him trading as a roofer on release. 

City of York Council began receiving complaints about Mr Clough’s activities back in December 2011. The victims – aged between 74 and 88 at the time and most suffering health problems – reported that Clough had cold-called with an excuse to have a closer look at their roof. Often he would say that he had seen birds flying under the tiles. He would go into the loft space and allege that the roof had major problems by showing his victims a piece of wet lagging to make his story appear convincing, and dupe them into thinking the work needed doing immediately.

Among his other tactic were presenting glossy leaflets and pretending he belonged to established trade associations to give his victims confidence. He would ask for thousands of pounds for his work; he is known to have taken £15,000 from his victims, but paperwork seized by trading standards officers shows that over £40,000 was sought. Independent experts who examined the roofs said that the work was of a very poor standard of little or no value and made the condition of the roofs matters worse, not better. Donovan Clough has been on remand since February 2013.

When Donovan Clough was arrested he was found with £2,000 cash thought to belong to one of the victims, an 80-year-old Haxby resident who suffers from vascular dementia. The council will be using new cash seizure powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to help return that money.

Two of Donovan Clough’s victims have died since proceedings began.

Councillor Linsay Cunningham-Cross, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Crime and Stronger Communities said: “Donovan Clough set out to deceive some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. He seemed trustworthy but was ruthless and we may never know exactly how many people have fallen victim to his crimes. 

“City of York Council will work tirelessly to deter and detect those who engage in this kind of deception and ensure that they are brought to justice.”

Detective Sergeant Ash Khan of North Yorkshire Police said: “Rogue traders and bogus callers pose a threat to communities in the way they prey on the elderly and vulnerable and by assuming that they will not be challenged. 

“We are aware of the devastating effect this type of crime has on its victims and, as such, North Yorkshire Police treat it as a top priority. 

“These criminals need to know that North Yorkshire and the City of York are no-go areas for doorstep criminals and rogue traders. Together with our partner agencies, we will pursue them relentlessly and do everything in our power to bring them to justice.”

A film company making a documentary into crimes against the elderly has been following City of York Council’s trading standards officers as they investigate the case. The two one-hour programmes featuring the work of the teams in York and North Yorkshire will be broadcast this summer.

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