‘Manipulative’ conman who duped NHS worker he met online out of £6,415 jailed

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd. Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
8:42 AM

A conman duped a Norfolk NHS worker he met online into giving him £6,415 to get her a Range Rover, but instead of getting her the car she wanted, he pocketed the cash, Norwich Crown Court heard. Paul McSweeny, 55, who then targeted other lonely women he met in Scarborough, to part with cash, has now been jailed for 16 months.

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A conman duped a Norfolk NHS worker he met online into giving him £6,415 in cash, by promising her that he could get her a Range Rover Evoque at a knock-down price, a court heard.

Paul McSweeney, 55, who has a long list of convictions for fraud, pretended he was a successful businessman and claimed through his contacts he could get her a car at less than any dealer could offer.

Norwich Crown Court heard that McSweeney took in total £6,415 from the woman in various payments, after tricking her into believing he was getting her the car she desired, even checking what specifications she wanted.

Andrea Lock, prosecuting, said: “She was bombarded with texts and phone calls asking her for details about the specifications and extras she would like for the car.”

But when she eventually handed over the last lump sum payment of £2,500 she heard no more from McSweeney, who by then had moved to stay in a hotel in Scarborough, where he targeted other vulnerable women into handing over cash.

Ms Lock said he took a total of £1,000 from two women by promising them big investment returns. He also took £1,000 from a single woman, from Jersey, he met at the hotel and duped another £600 from a widow, claiming he could help get her top legal advice.

Ms Lock said in all the cases he played on the vulnerability of the women, by flattery and manipulation and had told them a “pack of lies” to impress them in some way into handing over cash.

She said his victims had been left devastated by what he had done and felt “embarrassed” that they had been taken in. The woman from Norfolk even declined to make a victim impact statement to police. Ms Lock said in total he had defrauded the women out of £10,290.

McSweeney, who had been staying at an address in Litchfield Road, Great Yarmouth, admitted fraud and was jailed for 16 months.

Jailing him, Judge Katharine Moore told him: “You are an intelligent, persuasive and manipulative man.”

She said the women had been “susceptible” to his advances either because they were lonely or had some burden in their lives and said: “You sought them out quite deliberately. You knew you would be able to steal from them, and carried out a well practiced deceit.”

She said his victims had been left devastated and now found it hard to trust people and said: “You did not just take their money, you took their confidence and self-respect as well. There has been a lasting effect on all the victims, and one lady was so embarrassed, she has declined to make a victim impact statement.”

Danielle O’Donovan, for McSweeney, said: “He feels a very high degree of remorse. He is deeply ashamed of himself that he has caused these women to feel this way.”

She said he was a troubled man and had tried to take his own life in the past.

She said that McSweeney hoped to use his time in jail as a fresh start.

“This is a beginning for him to start again. He is 55 and does not want to be here again.”

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