For some criminals the elderly in our communities are seen as easy targets – people to be taken advantage of because of their age and vulnerability. So they beat, frighten, exploit, and steal from them.
Being a victim of crime at any age can be a traumatic experience but it can be life-changing for the elderly who often feel they have been singled out because of their age and may never feel safe again.
Here are criminals from across south Wales who preyed on older people and the horrible crimes they committed against them.
The con artist carer
Rhian Horsey stole almost £320,000 from an elderly and vulnerable woman in a scam which lasted five years. The 55-year-old was the trusted carer of the woman and had access to her debit cards. She abused her position of trust to carry out “sudden and significant withdrawals” of thousands of pounds and pocketed the cash, which she spent on luxury holidays for her and her family. She also falsified cheques which she paid to herself and made bank transfers from her victim’s account to her own.
The theft came to light after the victim’s daughter became concerned at the frequency and amounts of cash withdrawals from her mother’s account.
Horsey, of Y Parc, Groesfaen, Pontyclun, was convicted of seven counts of fraud by a jury after a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
Barrister Jodie-Jane Hitchock, for Horsey, said the defendant was well-regarded in the local community thanks to her involvement with with Brownies and Guides, being a school governor, and running a foodbank. She said: “She has touched the lives of a number of people in her community for a number of years.”
Recorder Mark Cotter QC described the defendant as a “viper” who was “aggressive and unrelenting” in her thefts. He told her: “You were dishonest and deceitful and driven by greed. If she had had an honest carer instead of you she would still have that money and still have equity in her house.”
Horsey was sentenced to five years in prison.
The rogue builder
Richard McCarthy badgered and pressurised his victims into drawing thousands of pounds out of their life savings to pay for work on their respective properties after claiming rats were running riot. In fact there were no rodent issues and over the course of several months the defendant fleeced the Cardiff women – one aged 69 and one aged 71 – out of a total of more than £20,000. On a number of occasions he even accompanied his victims to the bank as they withdrew the cash. In an impact statement from one of the victims she said had been made to feel “ashamed and scared” there was a rat problem in her house.
McCarthy, who was serving a sentence in Parc prison when he was sentenced for these matters, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
In mitigation his barrister Kevin Seal told Cardiff Crown Court that other people had been involved in the scam and that the money taken from the pensioners had gone up the chain to those above 28-year-old McCarthy.
Sentencing, Recorder IWL Jones told the defendant: “What you did with others was to take advantage of two elderly vulnerable women living alone and who had clearly been targeted. These are serious and these are mean offences. Repeatedly over a period of time you asked for money and in each case told lies. You made them scared and in panic.”
McCarthy was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
The cruel thief who befriended a widow
Richard Howells helped an elderly woman after seeing her falling in the street near her Swansea house and then went to the address the following day and stole her jewellery. The woman let the caller into her property after recognising him from the previous day but when her back was turned the 29-year-old helped himself to her gold rings – including the pensioner’s treasured wedding band.
In an impact statement read to the court the victim, who is in her 80s, said the incident had made her feel “stressed and upset” and unable to stop crying. She said he felt like she had been targeted because of her vulnerabilities.
Richard Ashley Howells, of Penplas Road, Blaenymaes, Swansea, pleaded guilty to burglary.
Advocate Lee Davies, for Howells, said the defendant had no excuses for his behaviour. He said his client was ashamed of what he had done and knew he had let his partner and young daughter down.
Recorder Malcolm Gibney described the burglary as a “nasty, mean offence”.
Howells was sentenced to two years in prison.
The burglar who had just completed a victim empathy course in prison
Jeremy Pegler broke into the home of a pensioner couple in Llanelli in the run-up to Christmas and stole watches, documents, wallets, and even unopened seasonal cards. He had only been out of prison on licence for a matter of weeks when he struck in the dead of night. While in prison he had completed a victim empathy course
Pegler, of Great Western Crescent, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to burglary when he appeared at Swansea Crown Court. He has 62 previous convictions for 191 offences starting with a conviction for robbery when he was a teenager and including eight house burglaries, 88 thefts and kindred matters, supplying heroin, and motoring offences.
Barrister James Hartson, for Pegler, said the 44-year-old defendant was an “unreformed heroin addict” who was “disappointed in himself” as he had completed the Sycamore course while in prison – a recognised victim awareness and empathy programme.
Pegler was sentenced to for four and a half years in prison.
The carer and his friend behind night-time break-ins
Carer Daniel Bloomer and his close friend Allyn Freeman raided a series of homes of women in their 80s and 90s looking for cash to steal. All the victims were asleep in bed at the time of the break-ins. Bloomer personally knew some of the victims through his employment with a firm called TLC which provided agency home care staff.
One of the women was woken in the early hours of the morning by a flash of a torch and found a hooded man standing in her bedroom while another found herself confronted by an intruder on the landing of her house who grabbed her walking stick.
Swansea Crown Court heard the break-ins had caused huge distress and upset to the victims. One of them said she had always regarded Bloomer as a “nice trustworthy young man” and was shocked by what he had done while another, who is in the early stages of dementia, has been left suffering with nightmares about people coming into her room.
Bloomer, aged 23, of Heol Elenydd, Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth, and 33-year-old Freeman of Bryn Wyre, Lledrod, Ceredigion, admitted conspiracy to burgle.
Barrister James Coutts, for Bloomer, said his client was a “vulnerable young man with his own difficulties” who a pre-sentence report had concluded was “abnormally compliant” and susceptible to pressure. He said the defendant was less criminally sophisticated than the co-accused and had not been the one who had entered the houses during the burglaries.
Daniel Walker, for Freeman, said his client had been diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger’s, and autism spectrum disorder and a report in his case had concluded he was vulnerable to being bullied and exploited.
Judge Christopher Vosper QC told the men they had carried out “targeted burglaries on elderly and vulnerable women” in their own homes, two of which had involved confrontations with the victims.
Both defendants were sentenced to four years in prison.
The drug addict who threatened to ‘cut up’ an elderly man
Marcus Ball threatened to “cut up” an elderly man with scissors after barging his way into his victim’s home in order to steal items to fund his drug habit.
The victim was sitting down to his tea in his Newport home when Ball and an unknown man knocked on the door. When the pensioner answered the intruders pushed him aside and burst into his home. The pair threatened the man with a pair of scissors then spent 20 minutes ransacking his home.
As a parting shot one of the men put his face up close to Mr Morgan and said: “You don’t know me do you? Don’t go telling the police or I’ll cut you up.”
In a personal statement the victim said the incident had a “profound impact on his life”. He now feels on edge and worried when he hears noises at night and has moved to Bristol to be with his daughter because he felt unsafe in his old home.
Ball, aged 34, of George Street, Pontypool, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary.
Rosamund Rutter, for father-of-two Ball, said her client had been “blighted with drug addiction” to crack cocaine and heroin and had offended in order to fund that addiction.
Recorder Caroline Rees QC said it must have been an “absolutely terrifying incident” for the victim who was at home and about to have his dinner when “hell was unleashed.”
Ball was sentenced to nine years in prison as a dangerous offender. He must serve two-thirds of that sentence in custody before he can apply for parole.
The former soldier who created a high-pressure call centre
Former Royal Welsh corporal Richard Evans set up a business which targeted elderly people and tried to con and pressurise them into buying new windows and doors which they did not need.
Port Talbot-based Crystal Style Home Improvements used a range of “scare tactics” to try to cajole its victims into signing contracts including telling customers their existing windows and doors were not up to date and so their home insurance policies would be voided, offering non-existent vouchers and government grants to get the work done, and inflating the initial prices to allow seemingly big discounts to be offered.
Swansea Crown Court heard the majority of the people the firm telephoned were aged in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Following instructions the call centre employees were “extremely persistent” in making calls often calling people back four or five times in a couple of days and pressurising the into agreeing to allow visits from the firm’s salespeople.
In total an investigation by Neath Port Talbot Council trading standards included some 180,000 phone calls made by staff.
Evans, aged 29, of Brook Street, Port Talbot, pleaded guilty to fraudulent business practices under the Companies Act.
Ian Wright, for Evans, said the defendant had been a corporal in Royal Welsh regiment and completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before being medically discharged in 2015 following a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. The barrister said his client also suffered with a personality disorder which made him prone to impulsive behaviour. He said the dad-of-two had invested his payout from the Army in starting up the business and it was not his intention at the outset to engage in fraudulent practices.
Recorder Malcolm Gibney said the kind of practices engaged in by Crystal Style Home Improvements were “all too prevalent” in the industry and he described it as “quite disgraceful conduct”. He said Evans’ business “from the very outset was designed to defraud” and the scripts given to call centre staff to follow were “completely bogus”. He noted the majority of people contacted were older in years and were vulnerable.
Evans was sentenced to 34 months in prison.
No custody photograph of Evans is available
The man who stole £4,000 from his elderly ‘aunt’
Craig Mulgrew had known his victim all his life and she was regarded as part of the family but that didn’t stop him from tricking her out of thousands of pounds. Mulgrew grew up just across the road from the woman and she had kept in touch with him when he went off to university – even helping him with his student finances.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that after graduating the 28-year-old defendant went to see his “aunt” – a woman in her late 70s – and told her he wanted to give her some money because of all the help she had given him over the years. Mulgrew asked the woman for her bank details so he could transfer the cash into her account but instead he entered the information into the Apple Pay app on his phone and went on a shopping spree, spending more than £40,000 of her savings before the scam was spotted and stopped.
Mulgrew, of Rhiw Cae Mawr, Brackla, Bridgend, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.
Thomas Roberts, for Mulgrew, said it was clear from a pre-sentence report that the defendant had experienced a “difficult childhood” which had left him with “mental health difficulties”. He said Mulgrew was on medication for complex post-traumatic stress disorder and also had physical health issues.
Recorder IWL Jones told Mulgrew his victim had shown kindness to him over the years and had trusted him and he had repaid that with a “deliberate, repeated, selfish fraud”. He said even after being arrested the defendant had lied to officers and had shown no remorse for what he had done. The recorder told Mulgrew: “You should be thoroughly ashamed of what you did.”
Mulgrew was sentenced to eight months in prison.
The teenager who attacked a dog walker
Teenager Ethan Bartlett attacked a pensioner who was walking his dog on a canal towpath after getting into an altercation about the animal. The incident took place on the towpath of the canal between Trebanos and Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley after Bartlett encountered the 72-year-old walker and made comments about throwing the pet into the water.
The pensioner challenged the defendant about what he had said and the altercation then turned physical with the dog walker throwing a bag of dog poo at Bartlett who then took the man to the floor and punched and kicked his victim as well as spitting at him.
Swansea Crown Court heard the victim was left dazed and suffering with cuts, bruises, and soreness all over his body and was worried about going out.
The defendant has a history of violent offending including attacking a 13-year-old girl, assaulting a policeman, punching a man with learning difficulties, and spitting at one of his former teachers.
Bartlett, who was 19 at the time of the incident but turned 20 before appearing in court, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Hywel Davies, for Bartlett, said his client was taking steps to address his misuse of drug, and “bitterly regrets” his actions on the day in question.
Judge Paul Thomas QC said many words came to mind when thinking about Bartlett’s behaviour on the towpath, the most polite of which was “cowardly”. He said it may have been “ill-advised” for the pensioner to throw the bag of dog poo but he described the defendant as a “violent young man” and said it seemed the only way the courts could deal with him was by locking him up.
Bartlett, of Swansea Road in Pontardawe, was jailed for a total of 14 months.
The carer who targeted victims with dementia and Alzheimer’s
Carer Jasmine Black set up online banking facilities for the accounts of two vulnerable women she was looking after and used it to steal their money. The victims – who were in their 90s, had dementia, and did not use the internet – were completely unaware somebody was accessing their accounts.
The thefts, which totalled almost £2,500, only came to light when the family of one of the victims noticed withdrawals from her account which she could not have carried out and alerted the care firm Black worked for. Police were then contacted but the 31-year-old defendant denied doing anything wrong – despite the login details for one of her client’s bank accounts being found at her home.
Black, of Clos Tyniad Glo, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position of trust.
Steve Thomas, for Black, said the defendant was remorseful for what she had done and had written letters of apology to the victims. He said the defendant had been “advised and encouraged” to do what she did by her then-partner but accepted she was wholly responsible for setting up the online banking facility and transferring the money. The barrister said the actions had been out of character for Black and she realised they were a gross breach of the trust that had been placed in her.
Black was sentenced her to 32 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and was ordered her to abide by a nightly curfew for 32 weeks and to complete a rehabilitation course.
The van driver with road rage
Van driver Thomas Agnew punched a pensioner and pushed him to the floor in a moment of road rage which caused the man to break his hip. The 30-year-old assaulted his 88-year-old victim on the A4063 in Maesteg after his white van collided with the pensioner’s car and he refused to give his details. After the pensioner took a photo of Agnew’s number plate the defendant got out of his vehicle and punched him in the shoulder before using his body weight to push him to the floor causing the elderly man to seriously injure his hip and leaving him in extreme pain. The defendant attempted to drive away but members of the public used their cars to block him in and physically prevented him from fleeing.
Agnew, of Wood Green, Bridgend, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent. Cardiff Crown Court heard he has previous convictions for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, violent disorder, and battery.
In mitigation Richard Barrett said his client had issues with “acting on the spur of the moment”.
Judge David Wynn Morgan told the defendant: “You lost your temper with Kenneth Roberts. You are a 30-year-old extremely fit young man. Mr Roberts is an extremely elderly gentleman and he’s 88 years of age. It must have been obvious to you he was an elderly gentleman. You pushed him with sufficient force to cause him to fall to the floor and the impact on the floor was sufficiently strong to cause his hip to break. That caused him immediate and extreme pain lasting many hours but resulted in him having to undergo a complete hip replacement at his age.”
Agnew was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
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