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Hampshire gardeners Robert and James Whitaker in OAP swindle

James and Robert Whitaker

James and Robert Whitaker

Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author

Jenny Makin, Deputy News Editor / / News

Published / News

TWO Hampshire gardeners are facing prison after being found guilty of ripping off an elderly man who was forced to pay thousands of pounds for work they supposedly carried out in his garden.

Robert Whitaker and his nephew James – who described themselves as “travelling boys” who would cold call residents across the county to try to get work – will have to wait until later this month to learn their fate after being convicted of fraud.

Jurors at Southampton Crown Court acquitted James’ brother, John, 43, of the charge.

The court has heard how the pair, known as Bill and Jimmy, conned an 89-year-old man out of £6,400 for work they claimed to have done in his garden on some 13 occasions between July and December 2011.

They had even driven him to the bank to take money out of the cashpoint machine on occasions and were only caught when staff at HSBC bank noticed unusual transactions on the victim’s account and raised the alarm.

James, 40, ran Chandler’s Ford Tree and Landscape Services, but would often use his uncle Robert to assist with heavy work.

He had told jurors how he was “not a dishonest man” but had never paid tax because he didn’t think he earned enough.

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Robert had been in the gardening trade for 15 years, running his own firm Robert Whitaker Tree Care, and said he would “rather die” than rip off a customer because his own mother had fallen victim to rogue traders in the past.

Robert, 47, formerly of Ennell Copse, North Baddesley, and James, 40, from Triangle Gardens, Nursling, will be sentenced on February 17.

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