Judge gives £200 to friend who turned detective to snare £11,000 Norfolk fraudster who targeted vintage sidecar champ

Fraudster Christopher Heather, who has been jailed for 12 months. Picture: Norfolk Police

Fraudster Christopher Heather, who has been jailed for 12 months. Picture: Norfolk Police - Credit: Archant

A champion vintage sidecar racer had £11,000 stolen from him by a man who pretended to be his friend, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Dick Hawes and his wife Pam were befriended by fraudster Christopher Heather, who became so close to him that he accompanied him to the Isle of Man TT races and contests across Europe.

The court heard how Heather stole a bank card from the home of Mr Hawes, 71, in Homersfield, near Harleston and used his PIN to steal £10,998 from his account.

Jude Durr, prosecuting, said he often withdrew more than £500 at a time, having found out the PIN when Mr Hawes once gave him the numbers so that he could pay for a round of drinks.

The fraud was uncovered after Mr Hawes noticed cash missing from his account. His friend Marc Beeson helped him investigate and discovered Heather had been using his card and was caught on camera spending £623 on supermarket shopping in Harleston and withdrawing £500 in cash on the same day.

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Heather, of Church Lane, admitted fraud and theft between October 5 and November 7 last year and was jailed 12 months.

Jude Durr, prosecuting, said Mr Hawes had known Heather for about six years and he thought he was a trusted friend.

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John Morgans, for Heather, said he had succumbed to temptation and said the thefts had been 'out of character' and 'inexplicable'.

He said: 'He regretted his actions almost from the outset. He did stop a month before he was arrested.'

He added: 'He has let people down, people that he was friends with.'

Jailing him, Judge Maureen Bacon said he had stolen 'systematically' from his friend and commended the actions of Mr Beeson in helping bring Heather to justice - awarding him £200 out of public funds.

After the case. Mr Hawes, who was in court with Mr Beeson to see Heather jailed, said he thought Heather should have been given a harsher sentence: 'I think he should have got longer.'

Mr Beeson said that he had his suspicions about Heather and was pleased it had all been resolved: 'I contacted the police straight away.'

He said he was surprised to get the award from the judge: 'I was not expecting anything at all. I just wanted to get Dick his money back and find out who was doing it.'

He said the betrayal by Heather had hit the couple hard, particularly Mr Hawes wife: 'It has hurt her very badly.'

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