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Court hears Brighouse love cheat, 27, left vulnerable woman without any cash
A love cheat in his 20s conned an elderly widow into handing over £15,000 for their wedding and spent the money on holidays in Tenerife, a Court heard.
Andrew Harding, 27, fleeced Brenda Nicholls – 45 years his senior – out of her pension in the pretence of a June wedding, it is alleged.
Mrs Nicholls, 72, handed more than £100 a week to Harding, leaving her in dirty clothes and with bare cupboards, prosecutor Chris Smith told a jury at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Mr Smith said police were alerted by Richard Walker, a support worker at Calderdale Social Services who was concerned about Mrs Nicholls’ relationship with Harding.
“There was a stark difference in age between her and the defendant,” Mr Smith said.
He told the jury Mrs Nicholls’ level of understanding was below that of a child aged ten.
She lived in sheltered accommodation and social services gave her a weekly allowance out of her pension.
In 2006, when her allowance was £60 a week, Mr Walker noticed a deterioration in her appearance.
She told him she was giving her money to Harding, the jury was told.
Her allowance was upped to £100 a week and she asked for lump sums. Mr Walker suspected they were going to the defendant.
Mrs Nicholls told the police she had been in a relationship with Harding for three years.
She said they were engaged and she travelled by bus from her home in Hebden Bridge for secret meetings in Halifax.
Mrs Nicholls said Harding proposed on her birthday and they planned to marry on June 12, the anniversary of his grandmother’s birth.
“At first it was 2010, then 2011, then 2012,” she said.
She said she never had a party or an engagement ring.
Mrs Nicholls told officers Harding spent her money on holidays to Tenerife, bringing her back a stick of rock, perfume and a T-shirt.
“She told police she realised she had been taken for a ride and she wanted her money back,” Mr Smith said.
During police interviews Harding told officers he had no intention of marrying Mrs Nicholls but felt sorry for her, the jury was told.
The trial continues.