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Heartless Dudley market trader conned vulnerable mum out of £21k
9:00am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
A DUDLEY market trader conned the vulnerable mother of a disabled ten-year-old out of £21,000 for decorating and gardening.
Gambling addict Alan Nicholson was paid £800 a month from the £1,100 in benefits the woman received.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told when he was arrested the shameless flower seller had just told his victim she still owed £46,665.
Prosecutor Mark Jackson told the court the value of the work done by Nicholson, a father-of-three, for the woman, had been estimated at £6,748 which meant she was about £14,000 out of pocket.
Judge Michael Dudley told 51-year-old Nicholson: "This was really unpleasant offending that lasted over a lengthy period.”
He said Nicholson had taken advantage of the woman in the full knowledge he was leaving her with just £300 a month from her benefits to meet her bills - "living on next to nothing."
Mr Jackson told the court Nicholson befriended the woman at a time when he had £29,000 savings in the bank and no mortgage on his own £180,000 home.
The fraud began with an offer from Nicholson to tidy the 41-year-old woman's garden and was uncovered by police after she admitted to a housing officer she was in financial trouble.
Mr Jackson said: "The benefits of her disabled child were being used to pay for the fraud and he and his mother existed on a pittance month after month."
As far as the woman was concerned she felt she was in a position that was "never ending" added Mr Jackson, who told the court Nicholason would now be facing a further hearing when it was hoped he would be ordered to pay her back.
Nicholson, of Kingsbury Road, Erdington, admitted two charges of fraud and was jailed for 20 months. Sally Cairns, for Nicholson, said her client was deeply ashamed of his actions.
She added: "He knows they are despicable offences, gambling took over his life. He was addicted to gambling, he was gambling every day and he was losing up to £800 a day."
She said Nicholson had spent all his earnings and his family’s savings on his addiction but now, with the help of Gamblers Anonymous, he was no longer gambling.
Miss Cairns went on: "He is full of remorse for the harm he caused to this woman and her son, he is remortgaging the family home so he can raise the money to repay her for the money he took."
Nicholson was a man of previous good character and his criminality had caused major problems in his home. "His wife has found it very hard to forgive him for what he has done," concluded Miss Cairns.
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