Heartless crook who tried to scam 81-year-old woman out of £6,000 is behind bars
A heartless criminal who tried to scam an elderly woman out of £6,000 has been jailed for three years.
Jamie Gascoigne and another man tried to persuade the 81-year-old woman to pay for building work that did not need doing.
The health of the victim has since deteriorated, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Judge Stephen Ashurst praised a Barclays bank worker who noticed the victim appeared distressed when she visited the branch in Hartlepool to withdraw the money.
During a trial lasting two days, prosecutor Susan Hirst told a jury Gascoigne and another man pulled up outside the victim's semi-detached house in their unmarked builder's van.
"The victim was in her garden doing the hedge," added Ms Hirst.
"The other man asked her if she needed any jobs doing.
"He went on to say the flat roof on her extension was 'all blistered', and he would repair it for £6,000.
"Gascoigne was sitting in the van, but he was close enough to hear what was being said, and he clearly knew what the plan was.
"Later on, Gascoigne returned in the van on his own and gave the woman a lift to her bank, Barclays in Hartlepool.
"One of the staff there noticed the victim seemed concerned.
"When the victim said she was withdrawing money for builders, the employee became suspicious and alerted her manager.
"He went upstairs in the bank to take a photograph of Gascoigne's van outside."
The court heard police arrested Gascoigne nearby.
He admitted giving the victim a lift to the bank, but said he had no knowledge of her being asked for money.
Gascoigne, 29, of Stephen Street, Hartlepool, denied fraud on October 22, last year.
The jury took 25 minutes to reach its guilty verdict.
"You were convicted on the most compelling evidence," Judge Ashurst told Gascoigne.
"Whilst you may not have asked for money directly, it's clear you were part of this scam to extract money.
"We have heard the impact on your victim has been severe, and you put an 81-year-old woman through the ordeal of giving evidence.
"It is obvious she is a vulnerable victim, and regarded by criminals such as you as easy prey.
"You deserve very little sympathy from the court."
Commending the bank workers, Judge Ashurst said: "The employee and her manager saved the victim from losing her money.
"I make no comment about branch closures, but this case illustrates the value of personal contact in banking.
"The police were also on the scene very quickly."
Gascoigne was made the subject of an order banning him from contacting his victim or going to her road for five years.