A CALLOUS fraudster who duped elderly couples into giving him thousands of pounds of their life savings has been jailed for more than two years.

Charles O’Brien is behind bars after pretending to his pensioner victims that he was a qualified tradesman, when, in fact he was a lying scammer.

The 38-year-old dad-of-six wept in the dock as his vile crimes against two elderly couples were revealed.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard O’Brien, who is originally from Ireland, but now lives in Irvine, targeted a 76-year-old man and his 74-year-old wife on February 16 this year.

O’Brien appeared at the couple’s Whin Hill Road home in Ayr and told the trusting pair that their house needed a new roof and that an exterior wall needed to be rough cast.

The rogue tradesman then told the couple he was a qualified roofer and rough caster and would need £15,780 cash upfront to buy materials.

The unsuspecting couple handed the cash over believing the work would be carried out.

However, the court heard that not only was O’Brien not qualified to carry out the work, but the roof and wall did not even need repaired and O’Brien never purchased the materials.

The court was told that O’Brien even had the gall to demand a further £4,800 from the couple, which they did not pay him.

Just weeks after the first scam, O’Brien found another trusting elderly couple in Main Street, Drybridge and tried to dupe them out of £18,000 to replace guttering and felting on dormer windows.

The bogus trader told the 79-year-old man and 80-year-old woman he would need an advance of £2,000 for materials, then went back and demanded a further £5,000 before they refused to pay him the total lump sum.

O’Brien’s solicitor pleaded with Sheriff Alistair Watson to spare his client jail for the sake of his family and six children - one of whom, he said, had “learning and physical difficulties”.

He said: “His position remains that he is gravely sorry and remorseful for his conduct. He feels sorry for the impact that it has had on his victims and his own family.

“He is someone who, through his community has developed a number of skills in labouring and construction and monoblocking. It’s a skewed view of the reality of his qualifications.

But Sheriff Watson told O’Brien, who sat weeping in the dock, he could see through his tears.

He said: “Given the nature of the offences and the sums of money concerned the only appropriate sentence is a custodial sentence.

“This was a course of criminal conduct directed towards elderly people. You selected victims who were elderly and who were fooled by you and you stole their life savings.

“Crying does not impress me at all. You are feeling sorry for yourself when what you should have been doing is thinking about those unfortunate people who have lost money.

“The effect on your victims is likely to have been highly significant. You persisted in this criminal behaviour and you appeared in court for the first matter and went on to commit the next crime in a matter of days.”

O’Brien was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

As he was led away in handcuffs the Irishman shouted “There’s no justice in Scotland”.

Sergeant Jamie Dunlop at Ayr Police Office said: “Bogus callers and rogue tradesmen are professional liars who regularly prey on the elderly and they can be extremely convincing when they come to the door offering their services.

“We would advise that if someone approaches you claiming to be a tradesman – ask for their identification, and if you are still unsure, call the company to verify that they work for them.”

“Always close and lock your door, or use a security chain if you have one, when you’re calling to check they are genuine and don’t allow anyone into your home until you are absolutely certain of their identity. If you are still in any doubt at all – contact the police.”