Issued by City of York Council
City of York Council’s has successfully used newly-acquired powers for the first time today to return cash seized from a bogus roofer to the person he defrauded.
Cash seizure is allowed under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and council financial investigators were given the powers to use them last year and this is the first opportunity City of York Council has been able to use them to return money to a victim of crime.
A hearing at York Magistrates’ Court today has awarded the council the right to restore £2,000 found on convicted fraudster Donovan Clough at the time of his arrest.
The cash will be repaid to an 80-year-old who Clough had conned into paying for unnecessary and substandard roofing work.
Donovan Ross Morley Clough took the money last September after cold calling his victim who has dementia, falsely claiming she needed urgent work to her roof and then taking her to the bank to withdraw the cash.
When Clough was arrested, police officers found him in possession of £2,000 in £20 notes which were later confirmed to be those withdrawn earlier that day.
Following an investigation by the council’s Trading Standards team and North Yorkshire Police, Clough was arrested and convicted of unfair trading and fraud offences at York Crown Court on 13 June 2013.
Trading Standards Officers prosecuted Donovan Clough after discovering he had conned at least 18 victims over a 14-month campaign in York and Selby.
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 Clough’s activities in December 2011. The victims – aged between 74 and 88 at the time and most suffering health problems – reported that Clough had cold-called, often claiming that he had seen birds flying from under the tiles.
He would go into the loft space and allege that the roof had major problems needing immediate attention, showing his victims a piece of wet lagging on which he had sometimes urinated.
Other tactics included presenting glossy leaflets and pretending he belonged to established trade associations. He would ask for thousands of pounds for his work and is known to have taken £15,000 from his victims.
However paperwork seized by trading standards officers suggested that he had charged for £40,000 in total. Independent experts who examined the roofs said the work was of a very poor standard, was of little or no value and worsened the condition of the roofs.
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 was ruthless. He took vast sums of money from vulnerable people who he tricked into trusting him and whose trust he abused.
“I’m delighted that our officers have used these newly-acquired cash seizure powers in a novel way to help this particular victim recover her money. City of York Council will do whatever it takes to protect our most vulnerable residents from crime.”
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