Conmen handed 50 years in jail for ‘doorstep terrorism’ across Wakefield and West Yorkshire

The gang targeted victims aged in their seventies, eighties and nineties.
The gang targeted victims aged in their seventies, eighties and nineties.

A gang of doorstep criminals who defrauded elderly and vulnerable people across West Yorkshire out of thousands of pounds have been jailed for nearly 50 years.

The sentencing judge at Leeds Crown Court described their crimes as “terrorism by numbers”.

The court heard how the gang targeted victims aged in their seventies, eighties and nineties at their homes in Wakefield, Leeds, Huddersfield and in South Yorkshire.

Their main tactics included offering to do building work on their victims’ homes and charging massively inflated prices for substandard work. They would terrorise their victims into paying and take them to cashpoints against their will to draw out money.

They also distracted other victims by posing as ‘water board’ officials to commit some of the offences.

Most of the offences took place between January and May 2014.

The group were brought to justice following a lengthy investigation by the Leeds District Neighbourhood Crime Team and officers in Wakefield.

Members of the group targeted an 85-year-old man at his home in Wakefield and took a total of £13,500.

They targeted an 83-year-old woman at her home in Huddersfield. She was repeatedly visited and taken against her will to a cashpoint. A total of £1,550 was taken.

An 83-year-old man was repeatedly visited at his home in Pudsey in January and had £15,050 taken from him.

Attempts were made to defraud a further six pensioners, aged from 70 to 92, at their homes in Leeds, Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield.

The defendants were all known associates and family members, most with lengthy records for similar organised criminality.

Ringleader Joseph Doran, aged 27, of Toft Street, Wortley, was sentenced to a total of 11 years for three separate conspiracies to defraud and burgle and one offence of dangerous driving where he drove at speed and rammed police cars to evade capture.

Daniel Connors, aged 39, Whincover View, Farnley, and Paul Boryn, aged 46, Pinderfields Road, Wakefield, were each jailed for eight years for two conspiracies to defraud.

Felix Cunningham, aged 45, of Greenwood Road, Wakefield, was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Thomas Doherty, aged 43, of Northcote Drive, Beeston, and John Charles Connors, of Owlcoates Terrace, Pudsey, aged 30, were each sentenced to seven years and four months. Christopher Ibbotsen, aged 66, of West Grange Road, Leeds, was given a 12-month community order.

Those involved were linked to the offences and stolen vehicles used in the offences through CCTV and forensic work built up over a number of months.

Doran and Daniel Connors were arrested in Nottinghamshire following a successful West Yorkshire Police operation.

Inspector Anthony Scopelliti, who led the investigation, said: “This was an organised criminal gang that was preying on the weakest and most vulnerable in our communities purely for financial gain.

“This was done in a planned and orchestrated way without any thought for the impact their offending was having on these elderly victims. They would go back to the same victims again and again to try and take everything they could from them.

“These men are utterly beneath contempt and we hope the significant sentences they have received will provide some level of reassurance to their victims and to the wider community.

“We will always treat offences of this nature very seriously and have specialist detectives who will target those involved and do everything we can to see them brought to justice.

“We hope this case will also serve as a reminder to people to always be suspicious of anyone who calls at their home unexpectedly or who they see calling on their elderly neighbours. If you are in any doubt, contact the police immediately.”