Hartlepool conman fleeced £27,000 from 92-year-old churchgoer and threatened 'call the police I will kill you'
A cruel Hartlepool conman repaid a 92-year-old churchgoer's kind offer of help by fleecing him out of £27,000.
Scott Thomas Hanson began a ruse on August 12 last year when he was approached inside a church in Cockermouth, Cumbria, by the pensioner who noted he "seemed to be in a low way and appeared depressed", Carlisle Crown Court heard.
"He asked if he could offer help," said prosecutor Gerard Rogerson. "The man - this defendant - told him he had just walked out on his wife, had packed his things and left, and that he had been on the road for the last three days."
Out of sympathy, the OAP gave Hanson, 35, money for a train fare and other expenses, and passed on his phone number.
But during August, September and October, Hanson contacted the pensioner, almost daily, seeking money for needs which he said included a deposit on a flat, furnishings and even funeral expenses.
This was duly paid into the bank accounts of two females whom Hanson misled.
"The total amount paid over these months was £27,000," said Mr Rogerson.
"When the victim raised concerns that other people were noticing amounts going out of his account and it was drawing attention, he was issued with a threat."
Hanson had warned: "If you call the police I will kill you."
Indeed so fed up was the elderly man with the phone contact, he said on one occasion: "Cut to the chase, Scott. How much do you want now?"
In a statement, the pensioner told police: "Some days I feel livid about the lies that he told me and that I believed. But mostly I feel sad, sad that he could do that to me under the guise of friendship.
"The money that I gave Scott, would have been money for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, but now I am unable to give them gifts.”
He added: "The incident made me unwell at the time and made me sick with worry. I feel like I have let myself down, I always have been so careful with my money. But, I prioritised my Christian duty to help others over this, and for this I have been taken advantage of by Scott."
Hanson admitted fraud and, the court heard, had a host of previous other dishonesty convictions on his criminal record.
An employee of Coral bookmakers in Hartlepool reported Hanson had been a regular customer at the time.
"He spent, between September and October, £24,282 on betting and gambling," Mr Rogerson revealed, "and in fact received £17,000 back in winnings."
Chris Evans, defending, said: "He does accept he was dishonest and he did express remorse in his (police) interview. He repeats his remorse through me."
Mr Evans, who stated that Hanson was motivated to beat his gambling addiction, added: "For the past year he has reflected on what took place. Of course it was a bad offence. He knows that."
Hanson was jailed for 30 months.
"You committed a mean offence when you gained the trust of a 92-year-old man who took pity on you," Judge James Adkin told him. "You manipulated him and, occasionally, bullied him.
"He was particularly vulnerable, not just elderly but partially deaf."