A couple from Mayfield who defrauded a string of elderly women of cash and possessions were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court this week.
Police say 40-year-old William John Moore, 40 and 33-year-old Stacey Louise Crossan, 33, both of Southmead Close in Mayfield had changed their pleas to guilty shortly before they were set to stand trial.
They appeared before Judge Guy Anthony at Lewes Crown Court for sentencing on Monday (February 13).
Police say Moore was jailed for a total of three years after admitting four counts of fraud while his partner Crossan admitted to a proceeds of crime act offence and was given a 12-month community order and a requirement to complete 120 hours of unpaid community work.
Officers investigating the crime found Moore had touted for gardening work at the Rotherfield home of an 83-year-old woman with advanced vascular dementia. A fee of £175 was agreed but Moore later persuaded the woman to sign a cheque before filling it in for the sum of £5,500.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “He gave the cheque to Crossan to pay into her bank account, but fortunately the ruse was discovered before the cheque cleared.
“In another scam, Moore befriended an 86-year-old woman who lives near Hastings and played her on her age and religious convictions to con her into believing that if she signed over some of her land to him he would use it to open a riding school for disabled children.
“Also aware that she was struggling to look after 30 pet goats, he offered to take them ‘off her hands’. Since she could not simply give them away he offered her a Rolex watch worth £3,500 in exchange, but this was later found to be worth no more than £10.”
Police say Moore’s third victim – a woman in her 80s with dementia and living in Buxted – proved to be his undoing. He had again touted for gardening work and with her having no money readily to hand, he took her to her building society branch to withdraw cash.
But staff were suspicious and immediately alerted police, so that Moore was arrested while still waiting outside in his van.
Moore received three year jail terms for the Rotherfield and Hastings offences, together with 18 month terms for both the other offences. All will run concurrently to total three years.
After the case, Detective Constable Micheala Pearce, who led investigations into the crimes, said: “These were deliberate and despicable attempts to take advantage of elderly women, two of whom suffered from dementia.
“I am delighted that Moore is now in prison and that Crossan was warned that any breach of her community order would lead to her also being jailed.
“I hope it demonstrates that Sussex Police takes such crimes seriously, no matter what the victims’ ages or health, and will fully investigate any allegations of people being criminally defrauded with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to justice.”