Conman offered to plant lavender - then tried to steal £12,000 from woman

Jack Belton has been jailed after admitting burglary and fraud offences. 

Jack Belton has been jailed after admitting burglary and fraud offences. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A man who offered to plant flowers for an elderly woman tried to fleece more than £12,000 from her after stealing cheques.

Jack Belton, 36, had spotted the elderly woman buying lavender plants before making an "unsolicited offer" to plant them for her.

Norwich Crown Court heard that after visiting the vulnerable victim, who has mobility problems, at her home in Hunstanton Belton lied to her about needing the toilet.

While going to the toilet he entered her bedroom and took several cheques.

Belton later attempted to get £12,500 from the cheques but the fraud was thwarted by a vigilant member of bank staff.

After being arrested and interviewed Belton attempted to say the victim was “addled by alcohol” and could not be trusted.

Richard Kelly, prosecuting, said Belton "targeted" the victim as being a vulnerable person.

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The court heard part of an impact statement which described how the crimes had affected the victim in relation to her trust in others.

Mr Kelly said the impact on the victim, who is retired, immobile, vulnerable and isolated, was "considerable".

Belton, from Northampton, appeared in court on Tuesday (May 25) to be sentenced having previously admitted burglary and fraud dating back to September 2018.

Sentencing Belton to a total of 18 months in prison, Judge Andrew Shaw said: "This is the sort of offending that utterly appals the public, utterly appals the courts.”

He said the courts “must protect elderly people alone in their own home”.

Judge Shaw said the offence was essentially a distraction burglary and insisted “people who prey on the elderly can expect to be sent to prison”.

Hannah Williams, mitigating, conceded the offences were "appalling" but insisted the defendant was under no illusions as to how serious the crimes were.

She said the offences dated back almost three years and told how he entered timely guilty pleas, saving the victim from having to give evidence in court.

She also said Belton expressed his remorse in a letter and had repeated to her "how awful he feels".

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