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Social worker tells court how he suspected Brighouse fiance's motives
A social worker told a jury he took an elderly widow shopping to buy clothes for her wedding to her 27-year-old fiance.
Richard Walker said Brenda Nicholls, 72, spent £15 on a coat and white shoes at a charity shop.
Mr Walker, a support worker with Calderdale Social Services, was giving prosecution evidence in the trial of Andrew Harding.
Harding denies swindling Mrs Nicholls out of about £15,000 with the promise of a June wedding.
Mrs Nicholls, of Mytholmroyd, told the police she had been “taken for a ride” and accused Harding of spending her cash on holidays to Tenerife.
Mr Walker yesterday told the court Mrs Nicholls was “an old fashioned lady” who believed in true love and romance.
He said he was seriously concerned about the age gap when she told him she was engaged to Harding.
Mr Walker said Mrs Nicholls’ living standard declined after she began a relationship with Harding.
“I noticed a slide in her appearance, dirty clothes, not doing her hair, and general anxiety, and not looking at her best as she would normally,” he said.
Mr Walker said there was sometimes no food in the house and she did not seem to be eating.
She told him she was saving up for her wedding.
It is alleged that Mrs Nicholls, who has learning difficulties, was giving Harding £100 a week.
Mrs Nicholls told the police she travelled by bus from her home for secret meetings with Harding.
Cross-examined by Harding’s barrister, Gerald Hendron, Mrs Nicholls said she smoked 60 cigarettes a day, a habit that would cost more than £100 a week.
Harding told officers during a police interview he had no intention of marrying Mrs Nicholls but felt sorry for her, the jury was told.
The trial continues.