Elderly victim of conman Sean Donohoe: 'He stole £30,000 and took ten years off my life.'
Audrey Jameson, 83, reveals how callous builder befriended her and then gambled away her life savings
An elderly widow told how a “charming conman” fleeced her out of her life savings to fund a gambling addiction and then said: “He’s taken 10 years off my life.”
Audrey Jameson, 83, was targeted by callous builder Sean Donohoe, 30, who befriended the trusting pensioner before swindling her out of £28,500.
When worried friends of the Tyseley pensioner became suspicious of him, the crook branded the OAP an habitual gambler who was frittering away her savings.
The reality was that he gambling away her cash after falling thousands of pounds into debt.
Donohoe, of Bronze Court, Wilnecote, Tamworth, was jailed for 21 months last week after admitting charges of theft and fraud.
Birmingham Crown Court heard he had also persuaded Mrs Jameson to change her will in his favour and he had secretly opened two life insurance policies, with him named as the beneficiary.
Mrs Jameson, whose husband Walter died 10 years ago, said: “Sean came across as the nicest guy in the world, someone who wanted to look after me and care for me.
“It was unbelievable how he talked me into it all, he was very clever. But all along he was taking money from my bank account and plundering my life savings.
“My husband and I had been careful all our life, but now it’s all gone.
“Sean was a charming man. He took me out for meals, ran me up to the local dance club and rang me almost on a daily basis to see if I was OK.
“I trusted him so much that I gave him my pin number to my bank account. Looking back it was a silly thing to do but he had gained my trust. He preyed on my loneliness. He knew I had no children, no family and saw an opportunity to take advantage.”
Mrs Jameson first met Donohoe in 2007 after she spotted his builder advert in a directory. He was employed to carry out work on her kitchen and put a new shower in her bathroom.
But he soon befriended her and then took over her financial affairs in 2011. For over two years he had control of her finances, applying for credit and racking up debts in her name.
After Donohoe was arrested he was found in possession of four credit card and had 57 pages of documentation in the widow’s name.
Yet when Mrs Jameson’s friends at the local dance club became suspicious of Donohoe he told them he was having to take control of the OAP‘s money because SHE had a gambling problem.
Yet he was the one with the addiction.
Mrs Jameson added: “He was telling everyone the money was being frittered away because I was gambling it. But after we had been out for a meal he would often pull up his car and nip in to the bookies.
“I didn’t know it then, but he was gambling away my money. He also used some of it to buy himself a second-hand car.
“My husband Walter and I had always been very good with money and I had around £30,000 saved, but he spent £28,500 of it.’’
As well as gambling, Donohoe had also blown money at the Snowdome as well as at shops, including HMV and Argos.
The fraud came to light after suspicious workers at the Department of Work and Pensions made checks after seeing Mrs Jameson’s account had become overdrawn and then social services became involved.
Jailing him, Judge Francis Laird QC told Donohoe: “You befriended her, you became a close friend and confidante. Because of your behaviour towards her she absolutely trusted you with her financial affairs. You abused that trust. You did so in every conceivable way. She effectively handed over her money to you.
“You were not a financial advisor. However she was an elderly lady, a widow, alone and highly vulnerable to a dishonest individual such as yourself.”
Nicholas Berry, defending, said Donohoe was suffering from anxiety and depression after the break up of a previous relationship and had got into a financial mess through gambling. He had spiralled into debt owing his father thousands of pounds.
With her money gone, Mrs Jameson is now facing a less comfortable retirement than she and her husband had planned.
“It’s heartbreaking,’’ she said. “I don’t know what my husband would say if he was here, but he would be devastated.
“I was sucked in by a charming conman without even realising it and what has happened has really affected me. I suffer from depression now and this has taken 10 years off my life.
“My husband always dealt with our financial matters, so when Sean offered to help me I was grateful. I trusted him but he took advantage of me.
“I am embarrassed by what has happened but he was very clever.
“Now I just want other vulnerable women in a similar position to me to be aware of the signs and to look out for people like Sean Donohoe.”