A CONVICTED "mean and nasty"rogue trader who conned a Wimborne woman out of her life savings has been ordered to pay more than £260,000 by a court.

John Charles Hart has been warned he faces a further two-and-a-half years in jail if he fails to pay up.

But he has been unable to account for what happened to a further £230,000 withdrawn from his bank account because the court heard he has memory problems due to dementia.

Now police have appealed for help to find out what happened to the cash.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing was held at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, August 28, in relation to the criminal proceeds obtained by Hart, aged 64 and formerly of Hannington Place in Bournemouth.

The defendant did not attend the hearing, which proceeded in his absence.

Read more: Rogue traders who conned elderly woman out of her life savings are jailed

Hart was sentenced to six years and four months in prison in October 2017 after admitting a charge of fraud by false representation. He appeared in court alongside three other co-defendants relating to a fraud case where a woman in Wimborne was conned out of her £120,000 life savings between March 2013 and July 2015 for unnecessary work on her home or work that was not carried out.

Bournemouth Echo: John Charles HartJohn Charles Hart

He was described as "mean and nasty" by a judge who heard the 88-year-old victim was left in dire straits with no hot food for two months.

The defendant had also been sentenced at Swindon Crown Court in May 2017 to five years in prison for fraud by false representation.

Read more: Woman, 19, knocked unconscious in early hours attack in Co-op car park

At the POCA hearing the judge ruled that the total amount that Hart had benefitted as a result of his fraudulent activity was £558,458. It was ruled that the total available amount that Hart was required to pay was £266,185.

This available amount figure included a sum of £230,000 that Hart withdrew from his bank account but the court was told that, due to the defendant being diagnosed with dementia last year, he has significant memory problems and has not been able to account for what he has done with the money.

If Hart is unable to pay the sum of £266,185 within three months he faces a further prison sentence of two-and-a-half years in default.

At the hearing the judge also ruled that from the money obtained through the confiscation orders, £120,000 will be awarded in compensation to the estate of the Dorset victim, who sadly passed away shortly before the hearing, and £35,000 to the victim in the Swindon case.

Read more: Jewellery burglar caught by fingerprints left at crime scene

Alan Wooller, senior supervisor for Dorset Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “We are committed to doing all we can to ensure that where offenders have benefited financially from their criminal activities, these assets are taken from them and victims who have lost out are compensated.

“We are continuing our enquiries to account for the whereabouts of the £230,000 withdrawn from Hart’s bank account and I would urge anyone with information that can assist with this to contact us or Crimestoppers.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55150054017. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call freephone 0800 555 111.