Rogue builders both jailed eight years after swindling WWII veteran

Rogue builders both jailed eight years after swindling WWII veteran

Two rogue builders are each jailed for eight years for swindling a WWII veteran out of £1.1m after one posed as his grandson to scam him out of his home and savings

  • Tony Casey and John O’Connor groomed Henry Bennett for over 12 years
  • Casey posed as the war veteran’s grandson to take control of Mr Bennett’s assets
  • He and O’Connor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud of more than £1.1m 

Two builders have each been jailed for eight years after swindling a Second World War veteran out of his home and savings in a £1.1million scam.

Tony Casey, 34, and John O’Connor, 37, were behind a complex 12-year conspiracy to take over the Wandsworth, London home of Henry Bennett.

Grooming Mr Bennett to take over the house in which he had lived all his life for a fraction of its value, they defrauded the veteran of more than £1.1million. 

Casey and O’Connor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud part-way through their trial, and were sentenced last week at Kingston Crown Court.  

It is believed they were employed by the pensioner, who paid them £32,500 from his bank in 2003, in the years before his death in 2016, aged 88. 


Tony Casey (left) and John O’Connor (right) were behind a complex 12-year conspiracy to take over the Wandsworth, London home of Henry Bennett

Mr Bennett is believed to have first met the greedy duo when he had building work completed, as bank statements showed unexplained large withdrawals between May and August 2003 of between £2,500 and £5,000, the court heard (pictured, Casey)

Mr Bennett is believed to have first met the greedy duo when he had building work completed, as bank statements showed unexplained large withdrawals between May and August 2003 of between £2,500 and £5,000, the court heard.

Neighbours told police of the suspicious way in which Casey or his associates would take their vulnerable and unsuspecting victim to the bank. 

In 2008, a relative of O’Connor bought the freehold for the extremely low value of £20,000, at a time when Mr Bennett’s property was worth £500,000. 

A company owned by the rogue builder provided the funds and helped sign the property over to his brother Jeremiah before ownership was transferred to Casey. 

Now ‘landlord’ Casey, from Hertfordshire, put the property up for sale in June 2015 for £949,000, making Mr Bennett a sitting tenant without a home phone.

Two weeks after the victim’s death in March 2016, heartless Casey arranged for the cheapest cremation that he could find, the court heard.

Casey posed as the war veteran’s grandson to deal with probate, meaning he would be entitled to take control of his assets (pictured, Mr Bennett’s home in Earlsfield) 

He posed as the war veteran’s grandson to deal with probate, meaning he would be entitled to take control of his assets.

Casey instructed a solicitor to sell the Brookwood Road house, and revoke a lease-for-life agreed with the victim as a sitting tenant.

In January 2017, a female relative contacted police after sending the victim a Christmas card that was returned to her and discovering his house was for sale. 

‘I found out the house was on the market and I was shocked and surprised and very curious,’ Ms Sutton told the jury. ‘It was very upsetting the cremation had taken place and the ashes were still with the funeral directors.’

Casey was interviewed at Sutton Police Station in September 2017 but when asked to prove he was the grandson of the victim, he refused and left.

The Met Police continued to investigate and Casey was charged with fraud by false representation in August 2018. O’Connor of Kent, whose support was integral to the fraud, was charged with the same offence in January 2019.

DC Cowlin of the force called the incident ‘a truly horrible, calculated and predatory fraud’ in which a ‘vulnerable elderly man’ had been ‘groomed’.

She added: ‘Had it not been for a family member contacting the police, then Casey and O’Connor might very well have got away with this crime. 

‘Although this investigation has taken years to complete, it was so worth it to see these two men behind bars.’ 

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