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Friday, 29 May 2015

Cumbrian brothers con pensioner out of £10,000 for ‘gardening work’

A frail pensioner was conned out of more than £10,000 by two Penrith brothers who called at her home offering to do gardening work, a court heard.

The 89-year-old woman suffered what a judge described as “every old person’s nightmare” when Richard, 31, and John Curry, 19, came to her home in Ulverston last November as she was doing odd jobs in her garden.

They persuaded her to sign blank cheques in return for their help.

Then they filled in exorbitant amounts – ranging from just under £2,000 to more than £5,000 – before paying the cheques into their own accounts.

At Carlisle Crown Court Richard Curry, of Newlands Place, Penrith, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to stealing £8,480 from the woman.

His brother John, who is 19 and lives at the Lakeland Caravan Site in Penrith, was jailed for 12 months after admitting stealing £1,900 from her and attempting to steal another £12,000.

Both men also admitted related offences of fraud in respect of the altered cheques they presented to banks in Ulverston and Penrith.

And Richard Curry, who runs a business called Richard Curry Building Services, asked the judge to take into consideration two offences of engaging in aggressive commercial practices and four of misleading his customers.

Prosecuting counsel Simon Gurney told the court the offences were only discovered when officials from the old lady’s bank, Natwest, alerted the police about large amounts of cash being withdrawn from her account.

The court heard that Richard Curry had been trading for 10 years and had always behaved “in a proper way” until he became an alcoholic because of business pressures.

Then, his barrister James Withyman said, he started spending all his money on drink, and when he had spent all he had he started stealing.

“He took this foolish and very mean decision to defraud this old lady,” he said.

“He realises he is the architect of his own downfall.”

Andrew Carney, John Curry’s barrister, said his client passed on the money he took to his brother.

“He is at a loss to explain why he became involved,” he said.

“He did it of his own free will, of course, but there was a degree of influence from his older brother.”

Both men, through their lawyers, said they intended to pay the money back.

Judge Peter Hughes QC told them: “A nightmare that faces every elderly person, and which also faces their families and those who care for them, is that they will be preyed upon by people like you.”

He said it would be wrong to impose anything other than immediate prison sentences.