Customers to get compensation from mobility aid bosses

COURT: Court Case
COURT: Court Case

NORTH Derbyshire and Peak District customers will be pleased to learn how bosses of two unscrupulous mobility aid firms have been ordered to pay back £170,000 of criminal gains.

Amarjit and Ranjit Gill ran companies called Virgo Healthcare Limited and Lifestyle from premises on Gainsborough Business Park, Long Eaton.

A wave of complaints about their illegal trading prompted one of Derbyshire County Council’s biggest ever trading standards investigations – and coverage on the BBC’s flagship consumer programme, Watchdog.

In December last year Amarjit Gill was sentenced to 18 months in prison for what a judge described as ‘disgraceful activities’.

His wife Ranjit was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Now the couple, of Brackenfield Drive, Giltbrook, has been ordered to pay back a combined total of £170,000 – or face jail terms.

And the 25 elderly victims of their crimes whose evidence was used in the case will receive a combined total of £42,466 in compensation.

The county council’s successful action through a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Derby Crown Court on March 21) found:

* Amarjit Gill had made £141,000 from crime. He had £90,000 available for confiscation purposes and must repay this within six months, or face 21 months in prison.

* Ranjit Gill had made £113,135 from crime. She had £80,000 available for confiscation purposes and must repay this within six months, or face 21 months in prison.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We were determined to claw back as much of the Gills’ illegal gains as possible and I’m satisfied with the outcome of our action.

“This was one of the longest and most complicated cases ever undertaken by our trading standards team which worked very closely with officers from Derbyshire Constabulary to bring the Gills to justice.

“Using the Proceeds of Crime hearing means we can ensure that they don’t benefit from the money they made illegally. And, whilst it will not make up for the suffering of their victims, I am delighted that those who gave evidence to help us bring the Gills to justice will receive compensation.”

Detective Sergeant Craig Hughes, of Derbyshire Constabulary’s proceeds of crime investigation team, said: “These criminals ran a sophisticated scheme which targeted vulnerable, elderly people and conned them out of their money.

“Their sales representatives used shameful high-pressure selling techniques to persuade victims to sign up for products at hugely inflated prices – many of which never materialised.

“This case, and the confiscation order for £170,000, is an example of how police and trading standards have worked together to get justice for the victims and strip criminals of their ill-gotten gains.”

The Gills previously admitted to 25 fraud offences which saw them make £42,466 from their victims.

Staff from Virgo Healthcare and Lifestyle sold mobility aids ¬– including reclining chairs, orthopaedic beds and walk-in showers – costing up to £3,892 to elderly buyers through home visits after speculative telesales calls.

Some of the offences related to the elderly victims not being given their money back when they tried to cancel the contract during the legal seven day cooling off period – this right to cancel is given to anyone who agrees a contract in their own home.

In the worst cases, the goods weren’t even delivered to victims – leaving them significantly out of pocket and without the mobility aids they had paid for.

Both Virgo Healthcare Limited and Lifestyle are no longer trading.

Valerie Shaw, of Matlock, was outraged when her late mother Mary Wallace was duped into buying items from them.