A 61-year-old widow could lose her family home after she invested £20,000 in a fish and shop business which turned out to be a con, a court heard.

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Drug addict Dean Ely, 35, gained the trust of the widow after carrying out work at her £140,000 home in Long Stratton.

And after telling her he had been made homeless she allowed him to move into her home as a lodger – despite the grave concerns of her family, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Instead of using the cash to set up a business venture, he blew her savings on drugs and now the widow has been left with £40,000 of debts and faces losing her home as she cannot afford to pay back the cash she borrowed against it.

Lindsay Cox, prosecuting, said that the widow had not realised that Ely was a drug addict with a long list of previous convictions and the medicine he used to collect daily was his Methadone prescription.

Mr Cox said that she was left in a “financially perilous” state.

In an impact statement she told how she has been left with debts of £40,000.

“She can’t meet that debt and will have to sell her family home. “

Ely was arrested on June 29, last year, and Ely admitted to police he had spent the cash on drugs and claimed the widow had “showered him with gifts and money”

The court heard that Ely had a long list of previous convictions for dishonesty and was currently serving a two year sentence for burglary.

Judge Mark Lucraft jailed Ely, of no fixed address, for a further 18 months after he admitted the fraud and told him he had targeted a “vulnerable victim”

Michael Clare, for Ely, said that the relationship had been a genuine one at the outset.

He said the woman had showed him with gifts and money, buying him a motorbike.

But Mr Clare said that after Ely had an accident on the motorbike he returned to using heroin: “He is not someone who set out to get into a relationship to carry out a fraud.

“He is deeply sorry.”

Speaking after the case, a Norfolk police spokesman said: “This was a nasty deception where Ely took advantage of the situation and preyed on a vulnerable woman.”

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