A CROWN Court judge has slammed “mean” and “nasty” rogue traders who conned a vulnerable elderly lady out of her life savings.

Their 88-year-old victim was in court to see all four offenders jailed for their part in a £120,000 con which left her in dire straits and with no hot food for two months.

John Hart, 62, of Hannington Place, Bournemouth received a prison sentence of six years and four months. The court heard he is already behind bars for a similar offence in Wiltshire.

Philip Budden, 37, of Malmesbury Park Road, Bournemouth, received a term of four-and-a-half years and Daniel Baker, 40, of Cartwright Close, was sentenced to 32 months in jail.

Daniel Sherwood, 34, of Ringwood Road, Bournemouth, received a term of five years.

The public gallery at Bournemouth Crown Court was packed for the sentencing hearing with many people in tears as the offenders were taken down to the cells.

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC told the offenders: “These were mean and nasty offences with considerable consequences to the lady who sits a few feet away from you showing more dignity than you did on your arrests.

“None of you has shown a shred of remorse for what you did to this lady. She now faces an undeserved degree of financial insecurity. She went without hot food for two months.”

Judge Fuller said the defendants were “passing her around” and were involved in “wholesale targeting” of their victim.

The court heard officers from Dorset Police were alerted by staff at Lloyds bank in Ferndown in July 2015 after bank staff became concerned about transactions from the victim’s account.

The lady had been contacted initially by Hart who asked if she wanted house insulation installed as part of a government scheme.

Over the next two years she paid £56,400 to Hart for work that wasn’t needed, more than £24,000 to Budden and more than £40,000 to Baker. More money was handed over for further unnecessary work to her home.

Sherwood was convicted of receiving some of the money paid to Baker.

Hart and Budden both admitted fraud by false representation, Baker admitted money laundering offences and Sherwood was convicted of two counts of money laundering following a five-day trial.

Detective Inspector Fiona Gaffney, who led the investigation, said: “John Hart and Philip Budden befriended and targeted an elderly vulnerable woman and conned her into believing work was needed for her home. They have now been handed lengthy prison sentences.

"Dorset Police and the court takes these offences extremely seriously and we remain committed to protecting and safeguarding vulnerable residents. I would ask members of the community to report any concerns about such activity to the police so it can be thoroughly investigated.

"This case should also send out a very strong warning that Dorset Police will ensure all individuals benefitting from fraud, not just those directly involved, will be sought and prosecuted."