‘Dishonest’ developer who scammed Oxford OAP spared immediate jail time

A ROGUE property developer who tried to defraud a pensioner into handing him his £595,000 house at a knockdown price has been branded ‘disgraceful’ by a judge.

Lewis McEwan, 42, walked out of court after recorder John Bate-Williams suspended his two-year prison sentence for 18 months.

The Enfield builder was found guilty last month by Oxford Crown Court of conspiring to defraud a 72-year-old man in the summer of 2018.

Labeled a ‘dishonest developer’ during his trial, McEwan drove to the pensioner’s Wytham Street home just days after another rogue trader, named in court as Geoffrey Simmons, said the only way for the man to pay an exorbitant — and, prosecutors say, unnecessary — repairs were being made through an equity release program.

After his 30-minute visit, McEwan sent the septuagenarian a letter outlining proposals for such an equity release program.

In return for signing his house, estimated by prosecutors at £595,000, the man would receive £87,500 in cash, repairs would be carried out and he could live in the 1920s house rent-free for the rest of his life .

The pensioner refused the offer and McEwan asked him to return the letter. Shadowy Simmons, who has never been brought to justice, tried several times over the phone to sign him – but without success.

READ MORE: Rogue builders father and son scammed Oxford OAP out of £23,000

Wytham Street, Oxford

The fraud was exposed by another group of rogue traders, father and son Charles and Charlie Carman, who reported the matter to the police. The Carmans received suspended prison sentences last year for convincing OLHI to pay thousands of dollars for unnecessary work around the house.

Sentencing him yesterday, Recorder Bate-Williams told McEwan: ‘It was a shameful offense in which you sought to take advantage of a vulnerable man.

“At 42, you now bear the stain of a serious criminal conviction and the shame you brought to your partner and your young son.

“By a very narrow margin, I decided I could impose a suspended sentence.”

READ MORE: Repairs to 1920s home ‘not urgent’, court says

In a personal victim statement written earlier this month, the pensioner said of the impact of the frauds committed by the four rogue traders: “I don’t trust anyone anymore.”

McEwan, of Whitewebbs Lane, Enfield, must complete the 32-day rehabilitation activity requirement, 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £35,000 in costs to Oxfordshire County Solicitors.

Lewis McEwan outside Oxford Crown Court

Lewis McEwan outside Oxford Crown Court

By way of mitigation, Adam Morgan said that at the time of the breach, McEwan and his property company, Whitestar Investments, were being sued for £2million after loans were sold by his bank, Allied Irish, to a US-led consortium.

He was forced to take the case to the High Court. “At the time of this offence, these proceedings were well underway. Although he was eventually able to settle the case so he could keep the business, the company incurred significant debts.

McEwan was said to be remorseful and wanted to apologize to his victim. Three tenants had provided references renting it as an owner.

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