Judge halts ‘rogue’ trial of Warminster men

6:00pm Friday 9th December 2011

The trial of five men, including three from Warminster, allegedly involved in a £50,000 ‘rogue builder’ scam against an elderly Stroud man has been halted at Gloucester Crown Court.

It is alleged that Derek Reilly of Bussage, Stroud, was grossly overcharged for work to the roof of his home.

In the dock were Shane Cole, 24, of Bullington Lane, Winchester; his 25-year-old brother William Cole of the same address; Simon Hawkins, 46, of Boreham Fields, Warminster; Jimmy Barney, 34, of Bradley Road, Warminster, and Barry McGowan, 51, also of Boreham Fields, Warminster.

Shane Cole denied falsely telling Mr Reilly between April and May 2009 that work was required to his roof.

Shane Cole and Barney denied a second charge of falsely telling Mr Reilly that further money was required for work done to his roof when that was not the case.

The Cole brothers, together with Hawkins and McGowan, denied a third charge that between December 2009 and May 2010 they conspired to convert criminal property – cheques fraudulently obtained from Mr Reilly.

William Cole pleaded not guilty to a fourth charge of criminally converting a cheque for £4,600 from Mr Reilly between December 1 and 31, 2009 by paying it into his account and withdrawing cash.

William Cole also denied converting a cheque for £26,000 from Mr Reilly between January and February 2009.

Hawkins denied converting a cheque for £15,000 in a similar fashion between April and June 2010, while McGowan pleaded not guilty to converting a £5,000 cheque in April/May 2010.

A jury was sworn in and the trial was due to get under way this week, until Judge William Hart ruled that evidence from a prosecution witness who is due to undergo an operation tomorrow would have to be given in person rather than by statement.

The prosecution was unable to proceed following his ruling and the judge discharged the jury.

The five men are now due to appear in court for a new trial on February 27.

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