Press releases

Family raises awareness of doorstep crime after elderly mum targeted by gang of rogues

A courageous family whose elderly widowed mother was tricked out of her life savings of more than £272,000 just before she died of cancer, have channelled their grief into a campaign to highlight doorstep crime.

Despite having to deal with the tragic loss of their mother, David Cornock and his sister Helen O’Neil were determined to alert other potential victims of heartless scams and have brought nationwide attention to the subject.

David (who is the BBC’s parliamentary correspondent for Wales) and Helen will receive recognition for their courage and determination when a representative of trading standards in Wales receives a Hero Award on their behalf at the Trading Standards Institute’s (TSI) conference and exhibition in Edinburgh today.

David Riley, Chair of the Wales Heads of Trading Standards said: ' The Cornock family has made a huge impact in a very short space of time in articulating the sadness, anger and frustration felt over their mother’s suffering and in so doing have brought the whole doorstep crime agenda to a broad new audience.

'The family has channelled its grief in a way that has assisted Trading Standards in raising the profile of doorstep crime throughout Wales and there is a real likelihood that their decision to speak so openly will safeguard others from falling victim. Yet the decision to speak so openly could not have been an easy one.'

David and Helen’s mother Anne Cornock, 76, was pressurised over the course of a year by a gang who conned her into handing over a total of £272,310 after she had a driveway laid at her home in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The gang persuaded her she had been overcharged for the driveway work and said they could help her obtain some re-imbursement if she paid them a sum of money first.

While the gang put her under increasing pressure she did not tell anyone of the problems she was having and by the time her family discovered the scam Anne Cornock was terminally ill with cancer.

Wales Trading Standards submitted the nomination for the Cornock family to receive the Hero Award. In their submission, they stated: ' in the words of Mrs Cornock’s daughter, Helen O’Neil, the experience had left her mother ‘emotionally distraught’; she had disregarded her own health while attempting to rectify the situation, ‘living and breathing it 24/7 until she died, in November 2009, a broken woman.'

The nomination told how Mrs Cornock had always been a prudent person, 'yet it seems she had felt compelled to empty her bank account; cash in ISA investments and savings for her grandchildren; and even took out an overdraft to satisfy the demands made upon her for payment.'

David told the BBC News website this May (2010): 'My mother was too ashamed and intimidated to tell anyone, which had a huge impact on her health. She was an intelligent, sensible woman – if she could fall for this, anyone could. The offenders destroyed the last year of my mother’s life.'

Cardiff estate agent Sean White was sentenced to two years in prison in March this year after admitting two charges of money-laundering. They relate to bank transfers of £60,000 and £55,000 made in 2008 by Mrs Anne Cornock.

Helen O’Neil said after White’s conviction: 'My mother was being hounded in her own house; persecuted, if you like, by phone calls demanding money. She ignored her own health trying to rectify this situation.'

David is continuing to help Trading Standards raise awareness of doorstep crime and has taken part in high profile campaigns to help safeguard others from becoming victims.

Notes for Editors:

The awards ceremony is at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from 13.00 – 14.00.

For further information, to attend the ceremony or to arrange an interview with a Trading Standards representative please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815or by e-mail on

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)

TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.

The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010
The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010, organised by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a 'must' for consumer journalists!

The TSI-hosted annual Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe.

The 2010 Conference is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from Tuesday 15 June to Thursday 17 June.
Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.
Please contact the press office should you wish to organise any interviews – an ISDN line is available for pre-booking.

The conference is hosted by TSI chairman David Sanders and the main sponsor is the Electrical Safety Council. 

Some 3,000 people are attending the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts!

17 June 2010