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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friend plundered £5,000 from retired Plymouth vicar's credit card

Friend plundered £5,000 from retired Plymouth vicar's credit card

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: June 05, 2015

  • Plymouth Crown Court

A MAN has been jailed for taking the credit card of an elderly former vicar and using it fund a £5,000 drink and gambling spree.
Callous Nathan Harris plundered the bank account of the 86-year-old partially-sighted man who regarded him as a friend, a court heard.
Locking Harris up for four months, a judge said the offences were the “most appalling abuse of trust”.
Recorder Paul Grumbar told him: “His eyesight was failing and he needed you to punch in card number. He trusted you completely.
“We must protect the old and the vulnerable from people who breach their trust.”
The victim, who lives in Eggbuckland, had willingly lent Harris large amounts of money – but he still wanted more cash.
The 26-year-old, of Craven Avenue, St Judes, had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation between last December and February.
He also asked for 16 similar offences, relating to other transactions, to be taken into consideration.
Plymouth Crown Court heard that the bank had since reimbursed the man with the missing money.
Nigel Hall, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Harris had known the victim for 15 years and regarded him as a friend.
He added that the retired vicar, who has failing eyesight, said that he believed the defendant even regarded him as a grandfather.
The court heard that Harris did odd jobs for him around the house.
Mr Hall said the victim received a credit card statement in February showing a debt of just under £7,000.
He spotted a string of unauthorised payments – and realised that only Harris had access to the card and his PIN.
Mr Hall said Harris immediately confessed and said he had spent £5,480 of the former vicar’s money.
He added: “He said he had spent it on gambling, and, in his own words, other rubbish.”
He read a statement from the former victim, which said he regarded Harris as a friend.
The pensioner said: “I feel he regards me as a grandfather. I am very disappointed he has stolen from me.”
Nick Lewin, for Harris, said it had started as a genuinely friendly relationship and he had never intended to take the pensioner’s money.
The barrister said: “This was a relationship based on love which he abused.”
He added that the defendant’s remorse was “deeply felt” and genuine.
Mr Lewin said that he had curtailed his drinking problem and tackled his gambling addiction since the offences.

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