Addict tried to con cancer sufferer

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A MEAN crook who tried to con a 78-year-old Nelson cancer sufferer out of £200 has won his freedom.

Drug addict Samuel Simmonite, who has almost 100 offences on his criminal record, had claimed the vulnerable victim owed the cash for scaffolding used in repairs allegedly carried out on the pensioner’s home by two other men.

The 78-year-old, who lives with his carer, did not hand over any money, despite Simmonite claiming to him he was married with children, would lose his job and needed to support his family. The defendant also struck at another house in Nelson the same day, demanding a VAT payment for work done 18 months earlier, but again came away empty handed.

Simmonite had been on remand for 129 days and had served the equivalent of just under a nine-month sentence. The defendant (36), of Larch Street, Nelson, had admitted two counts of attempted fraud on March 21st. He received 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and a 12-month drugs programme.

Mr Kevin Donnelly (prosecuting) said the 78-year-old victim had previously handed over £250 to two men - not the defendant - who had turned up and told him he needed work doing on his roof tiles. The barrister continued: “The suggestion is no meaningful work was carried out.” A few days later the pensioner was asked for £75 in VAT, handed over £80, but got no change.

On March 21st, Simmonite went to the pensioner’s home and asked for £200, telling the victim and his carer it was to pay for scaffolding used to carry out the repairs. Mr Donnelly continued: “No scaffolding had at any stage been erected.” The carer contacted the police.

The defendant was arrested at home on March 26th and made no comment to all questions when interviewed.

The hearing was told Simmonite had a record of 90 offences, mainly for dishonesty and had served time in the past.

Mr Mark Stuart, for Simmonite, said he had no previous convictions of a similar nature. He had a long-standing drug problem, but had been going to Inspire.

The barrister said: “He had no knowledge that others had been to the victim’s house and had money from him previously. He was aware, because he was told, that work may well have been done there.”

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendant the victim was vulnerable. He said: “They are mean offences.”

The judge, who said Simmonite had an “appalling record” for dishonesty, said he would give him one final chance. He continued: “It may be you may be more willing to accept help than on previous occasions.”