A THIEF who tricked a multiple sclerosis sufferer into withdrawing £300 cash before running off has been jailed.
Gary Alexander, 45, walked with his victim to a cash machine after claiming he could get him a new computer.
Alexander targeted the 52-year-old after he overheard the victim in the street tell a friend that his computer needed fixing.
Teesside Crown Court was told that Alexander had also heard the victim tell his friend that he was not well due to his illness and knew he was vulnerable.
He committed the callous act just two days before he was due in court for stealing from another vulnerable victim.
Katy Rafter, prosecuting, said Alexander met his victim in Oxford Road, Hartlepool, on February 20 before going to a cash point with him in Russell Walk.
Miss Rafter said: “When he took it out the defendant took it from him.
“He gave chase but found his wallet on the floor minus the £300.”
The court heard Alexander wore a baseball cap pulled down over his face to try to hide his identity and the victim pleaded with him not to run off with the cash.
Just two days after the callous theft, Alexander was handed a suspended sentence after conning a recovering alcoholic out of £900 last August in the Middlesbrough area.
Alexander got the man to empty his bank account on the promise of getting him a flat with the money as a deposit.
Then he disappeared with the cash, spending most of it on gambling debts.
The victim was in a nursing home after hospital treatment for his condition
The judge said Alexander had an “appalling” criminal record with numerous burglaries and robberies for which he had gone to prison.
Peter Wishlade, mitigating, said he had had a difficult childhood leading to his offending but had a ten year spell when he kept out of trouble.
He said a suspended sentence would “allow him to become a responsible citizen as he has shown in the past he is able to do”.
But Recorder Richard Woolfall jailed Alexander, of Monreith Avenue, Eaglescliffe, for 16 months after he pleaded guilty to theft.
Recorder Woolfall said: “Both these offences show a willingness to prey on vulnerable people who need protection and the courts are here to protect individuals such as these.”