The trial of three men accused of defrauding pensioners out of thousands of pounds in a solar panel 'scam' is coming to a close - with the prosecution describing the defendants as 'snake oil salesmen'.

Shaun Gill, Jack Lawrenson, and Ian Fredson face numerous charges of fraud by false representation.

Gill, of Bryn Street in Widnes, denies the four counts against him, while Lawrenson, aged 34, of Burrard Road in Runcorn, faces three counts of the same.

Fredson, 48, of Lady Richfield Close in Runcorn, denies two counts.

Reading Crown Court has heard that the three were employed by ESE Services Limited, which purported to offer improvements and services to solar panel owners.

The men are alleged to have defrauded retired people - including a couple of Kintbury pensioners - of thousands of pounds.

Between November 2017 and November 2021, the residents were allegedly charged for an array of products they did not need.

Jonathan Rees KC is prosecuting the group on behalf of West Berkshire Council.

In a closing speech today, he said: "Each of these defendants made very good money [...] selling to a series of elderly, hard-working, decent people who trusted them."

While the defendants presented themselves as experienced technicians, Mr Rees KC said they were actually 'snake oil salesmen', with little knowledge of the products and solutions they were peddling.

Mr Rees KC referred to the case of 84-year-old Irene Bishop, of Lawrence Mead, Kintbury - one of those allegedly targeted by the group.

Earlier in the trial, Mrs Bishop told the court she used to care for her ill husband William Bishop at home.

Mrs Bishop said that, after the couple responded to a letter from ESE in early-2018, Shaun Gill attended their property.

He was ostensibly there to carry out an inspection of the solar panels in the loft – but Mrs Bishop claims the checks were surprisingly brief.

She said in evidence: "He wasn't up there [in the attic] very long. I thought it was very quick."

During Gill’s visit to her home, Mrs Bishop suffered a fall, and she said the defendant urged her to go to hospital.

While she sought medical assistance, Gill was left alone in the house with Mr Bishop.

Mrs Bishop said that, upon returning from hospital that evening, she learned her husband had written a cheque for around £4,000 to ESE.

A month later, workers from the firm attended the property. They told the Bishops they were there to service the solar panels, following Gill's appointment – but, once again, their visit was short.

Mrs Bishop said the workmen did not even use scaffolding.

Other witnesses in the case have told similar stories.

This included one man who said he was charged around £1,000 for an appointment with an ESE employee. He said that, for this fee, the workman adjusted a knob on his solar panel.

An expert in solar facilities, Griffith Thomas, was called by the prosecution. He singled out what he saw as ESE's practices of overcharging clients.

For instance, one man paid £3,325 for work that Mr Thomas estimated would usually cost just £900.

The expert also said that, in the Bishops' case, the solar panel optimisers installed by ESE were of little practical benefit.

In his closing speech today, prosecuting Mr Rees KC dubbed ESE a 'rogue trader company'.

He told jurors: "You cannot set yourself up as someone selling highly technical products to members of the public [...] without you genuinely knowing what you are talking about."

The trial continues.