GOOD SAMARITANS have come to the aid of a Fleet pensioner who was left without a roof over his head by a team of despicable conmen.

Builders and a decorator with hearts of gold have helped to restore both Sid Cox's home and his faith in human nature.

They rallied round after hearing how the 77-year-old retired scientist had been fleeced of his savings by four gypsies who knocked on his door allegedly "looking for work."

The helpers restored the roof of his house in Linkway, and redecorated rooms damaged by rainwater, free of charge.

Sid, who worked at the RAE, Farnborough, said last Friday: "I'm more than grateful to everyone who has helped restore my house.

"Without their efforts I don't think I would have survived. I was totally devastated after the other lot left with my savings."

The so-called "builders" talked him into having moss cleared from the roof of his home, but once up there they created more work by removing tiles and felting.

After seeing the rip-off merchants working on the house for several days, a neighbour called the police, who responded almost immediately.

But as the officers drew up, the rogues jumped in their van and disappeared down the road. Sid, who declined to say exactly how much they had pocketed, said: "It was a large amount of money which I had put by for problems in my later years.

"I've been incredibly stupid and I hope my experience serves as a warning to others. On the face of it they were four nice lads, and they took me in."

Mrs Debbie Martin, who organised the rescue operation, described Sid as "almost suicidal" when she first spoke to him.

"He didn't have any money to pay for the roof repairs, and he had no-one to turn to," she said. "These people had almost literally left him without a roof over his head.

"I couldn't stand by and watch this happen to him, so I spent quite some time phoning round to find firms who would help him."

Mrs Martin's husband, Richard, repaired the front of the roof with materials supplied by Hart Roofing Services, and Three Counties Roofing completed the work.

Danny Dewar redecorated the water damaged rooms, and Viewtec Solutions has agreed to install a security device to protect Sid from unwelcome callers. Fleet police are investigating, but have warned the pensioner that the money has almost certainly gone for good.

Our picture shows (from left): Matthew Benton, of Three Counties; Danny Dewar, of Advanced Drain Systems; and John McEntee, of Viewtech.