Rogue builders 'bully' elderly Grimsby man Eric Weighell out of £16K
"IF THEY try to sell you something on your doorstep, tell them to go to Hell."
These are words of advice from 84-year-old Eric Weighell, who was bullied into parting with £16,400 by a "pushy" gang of rogue builders.
Mr Weighell, who is waiting for an operation to correct a bowel problem, has lived alone in his home on Hilary Road, Grimsby, since his mother – whom he brought home to care for – died in the 1990s.
Usually, his only visitors are the healthcare workers who monitors his colostomy bag and diabetes, and his neighbours.
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The pensioner had just returned from a trip to Australia to see his sister, nieces and nephews when a "builder" turned up on his doorstep.
He was jet-lagged, exhausted and suffering with severe pain from what he thought was severe indigestion – but turned out to be his bowel problem – at the time.
Exhausted Mr Weighell, who admits his "memory isn't what it used to be", was pressured into letting the cowboys re-pave his drive for £2,000.
"He was persuasive, pushy and just wouldn't take no for an answer," said Mr Weighell.
While repaving the drive, the men cajoled and pressured Mr Weighwell into having his back yard repaved and the interior of his bungalow repainted. They forced the frail pensioner with poor memory to withdraw a total of £16,400 from post office and bank accounts around the town – before the work was even complete.
"I didn't even want it done but they just kept on and on at me, wanting money for this and that before they had even finished," said Mr Weighell.
A building expert later reported that the outside work was "poorly executed" and would need to be redone, while the internal decorating was so poor that the original paintwork was still visible throughout the house.
The cowboy builders also paved over a manhole cover – which services seven houses on the street – and Mr Weighell has since had to pay hundreds of pounds to make it accessible again.
Mr Weighell said: "Not only were they pushy and dishonest but they made a muck of it, too.
"If someone tries to sell you something on your doorstep, tell them to go to hell. Look for respectable workmen through other channels."
Callous culprit Patrick Connors was ordered to pay back £16,400 after he was convicted after admitting aggressive commercial practices at Grimsby Crown Court in November 2010.
Last week, Connors, 21, of no fixed abode, launched a legal challenge to reduce the compensation he must pay his victim – money Mr Weighell has "not seen a penny" of, as yet.
However, at the Court of Appeal in London, Mr Justice Mitting, sitting with Lady Justice Rafferty and Mrs Justice Sharp, was not sympathetic after such "despicable conduct" and said his behaviour was "bullying".
Confirming the amount, he said: "I see nothing wrong with the order, although it may have under-estimated the true loss to Mr Weighell."
Proud uncle Mr Weighell hopes he will now see some of the money, so he can visit his family in Australia once more – health permitting.
"They call me up to see how I am and I would like nothing more than to go and see them again – I've been four times. One of my nephews has a winery, another is a police officer and my niece is a teacher."