A FORMER Swindon Town footballer and two tradesman have gone on trial accused of swindling elderly Oxfordshire residents out of thousands of pounds.

Phil King, who played more than 100 times for the Wiltshire club and went on to a Premiership career with Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, is charged with laundering ill-gotten money through his Swindon pub.

Builders Trevor Bateman and David Merriman are accused of over-charging or providing shoddy work at 10 properties in Oxford and the surrounding area before cashing cheques at the Dolphin pub, run by the former defender.

Nigel Lickley, prosecuting, told jurors at Oxford Crown Court yesterday: “The Crown’s case is they undertook work often for elderly females which turned out either poorly performed, poorly priced or simply unnecessary.”

There are 10 alleged victims from Oxfordshire, from places including North Oxford, Benson and Kidlington, and two from west Berkshire.

Mr Lickley said Bateman, 54, and Merriman, 49, who operated as AS Contractors, were “asking for money they knew was not due or justified for what they had done” for a variety of jobs, from roofing to bathroom renovations.

King, 43, admitted to investigators he had cashed up to £40,000 of cheques “for Dave and Trevor, but didn’t know their surnames”, and said he kept “about £25,000 in cash in his pub because he was a gambler”, the jury heard.

Mr Lickley said Bateman and Merriman were not qualified builders, did not have business bank accounts and “admitted in interview (with Oxfordshire Trading Standards) they have little building experience”.

He said the pair told Oxfordshire Trading Standards “they made no money in this period (2008 to 2010), they simply traded and paid expenses and wages”.

According to the prosecution, one alleged Oxfordshire victim, Jean Price, who is too unwell to give evidence, paid Bateman and Merriman £47,000 for work valued at less than £10,000.

Mr Lickley added: “The age of customers was often, but not always, elderly people, particularly elderly women living alone.”

He said King, of Rodbourne Road, Swindon “said in interview he was merely doing his customers a favour (by cashing the cheques) as the workers stayed on to drink at the pub and it was a way to make money”.

He continued: “They (Bateman and Merriman) would often go outside (the pub) to a van at the end of the working week, give money to workmen who would then spend it in the pub.

“That changing of the cheques into cash in this scheme is alleged to be money laundering.”

Bateman, of Oakham Close, Swindon, denies 11 counts of fraud, 10 of engaging in an unfair commercial practice, one of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice and five of transferring criminal property.

Merriman, of Swansdowne Drive, Clifton, Nottinghamshire, denies seven frauds, seven counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice, one charge of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice and five of transferring criminal property.

King denies six counts of converting criminal property.

The trial continues.