'Greedy' conman drug user who fleeced vulnerable elderly jailed for 8 years

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Stewart Marshall Stewart Marshall

A callous confidence trickster has been jailed for eight years for deliberately targeting old, disabled and vulnerable householders to strip them of their cash and valuables.

Stewart Marshall, who knocked on doors in the Bradford area to select suitable victims, was branded “mean, selfish and greedy” by the judge who locked him up yesterday.

Marshall, who literally stole the rings from a 90-year-old widow’s fingers, went cold calling with his “determined conman’s kit” of bogus identification cards and badges.

He tricked his way into the homes of elderly people with dementia, mobility problems and blindness.

Marshall, 44, of Mayfield Rise, Wyke, Bradford, was convicted by a jury at Bradford Crown Court on Friday of conspiracy to burgle, between August, 2011, and June this year, and converting criminal property.

A heroin addict, he had a previous conviction for house burglary and was jailed for two years for drug dealing in 1998.

Judge John Potter said 11 homes were targeted by the burglary conspirators. Marshall was linked directly to six of them and there was “strong circumstantial evidence” linking him to at least two more.

He and others knocked on doors supposedly canvassing for home improvement work and, when a likely victim was found, a note was made.

Police found names and addresses at Marshall’s home, with endorsements such as ‘Nutty old bat’, ‘Mrs disabled’ and ‘Mr has Alzheimer’s and we have been at the door before’.

Victims, with an average age of 90, had thousands of pounds stolen from them.

Judge Potter told Marshall: “You extorted money from your victims for work that was either not carried out or carried out to a poor standard.”

The first victim was dementia sufferer Maurice Lobley, of Tingley, who died aged 81 in September 2011. He paid out £15,000 for a driveway and £7,000 for a single window.

Joan Cottam, 90, of Embsay, near Skipton, issued eight cheques, losing more than £11,000, to replace windows.

Mrs Cottam said that a man involved in the work persuaded her to hand over her wedding, engagement and eternity rings.

Barbara Brooke, 78, of Bradford, had her handbag stolen by Marshall when he tricked his way into her home.

Another victim was Amy Roper, 94, of Bradford, who is partially blind and disabled. Marshall stole her jewellery while pretending to check a water leak.

Frank Perkins, 66, of Bradford, who is in a wheelchair, wrote a cheque for £450 as a “deposit” for building work. The cheque was stopped but Marshall then called round and stole his wallet containing £115.

On June 6, Marshall was under police surveillance when he called on a neighbour, Rene Widdop, 89, and got £30, saying he would do her garden.

He then made a quick call from a phone box on Easby Road and was seen getting briefly into a car on Laisteridge Lane. Minutes later, he was filmed on Little Horton Green rolling tin foil on his knee “consistent with a drug addict getting a fix”.

Marshall’s barrister, Ken Green, said he had struggled with drugs misuse over a long period and had been in custody for six months.

Judge Potter said: “This was planned and premeditated burglary of a number of dwellings. The premises were targeted on the basis of their occupants being vulnerable or elderly and all were present in their homes when you stole from them. This was mean, selfish offending inspired by greed.”

He added: “You have, Mr Marshall, not shown a shred of remorse.”


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