A THIEF who preyed on “vulnerable” elderly victims after offering to do guttering work at their homes has been sent to prison.

Among Shaun Westhead's victims were two women in their 70s, from whom he stole their purses and used their bank cards.

He even attempted to transfer thousands of pounds of cash from the bank account of his latest victim as his offending escalated.

Westhead, 35, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to offences of theft, handling stolen goods and fraud by false representation.

He committed the offences while serving a suspended sentence for other fraud by false representation offences which he received for putting stolen cheques into his bank account.

Westhead used 'same MO' on victims

Prosecuting, Daniel Travers told the court that Westhead committed offences on “three separate” victims, using the “same MO”.

Mr Travers said: “The first complainant lived at an address on Woodville Street, in St Helens” in “occupancy residency” and was in her 20s.

He added on September 12 last year the victim “went to the kitchen to make food and left the door to (her) room unlocked and returned that evening at 8.50pm and noticed her iPad was missing”.

The following morning she was “notified from her bank that it had declined a transaction from Asda that morning” and she reported a theft of her purse.

The court heard there were various transactions made with her cards totalling around £130 over the next two days.

Westhead pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and eight counts of fraud in relation to this.

Meanwhile, Mr Travers added, Westhead’s second victim, a woman in her 70s with “severe health conditions” who lived on Stirling Crescent, Sutton, was targeted days later.

St Helens Star: Westhead was sentenced on Friday afternoon at Liverpool Crown CourtWesthead was sentenced on Friday afternoon at Liverpool Crown Court

“On September 15, her car was approached by the defendant asking if she wanted her gutters changing and a price agreed.

“There was a visit to the house that afternoon” by the defendant and another man. They did not return the next day but on September 18 “the defendant sent a text message asking about work at the property”.

He turned up as “they were leaving the property” and was told he should speak to the victim’s husband.

Westhead was told by text they “didn’t need any work” but he “turned up anyway”.

The court heard the victim noticed her “purse was no longer in her handbag”.

A transaction on a bank card was declined and there were “three pending transactions” totalling more than £100 from local shops.

Westhead admitted to theft and to further fraud offences in connection to the second victim.

Meanwhile, Westhead’s next victim lived alone at Marina Avenue, Sutton, the court heard.

Mr Travers said that on October 8, the defendant “asked her if she wanted her gutters changing” and “came back with another man”.

Westhead then told her “more work needed to be done” and “he asked for money for the extra work”.

He also asked his victim to give him a lift to Clock Face, near a shopping centre and she “realised her mobile phone was missing” as well as “bank cards” and a “watch”.

A “substantial” £2,000 transfer had been made from her account and a “further attempted transfer of £4,000.”

Westhead admitted to another count of theft and further fraud offences over this.

'Irreplaceable' photographs lost due to thefts

Mr Travers said that in a victim impact personal statement, that the third victim had lost “items of sentimental value” including photographs on her phone of “irreplaceable records of her children and grandchildren.”

The court heard the second victim had lost “photos that can never be replaced” and has been left thinking of herself as “vulnerable” and “hesitant” about having “work done “in her house in future”.

Defending Westhead, David Woods said the “background” to the offences is “drug addiction”. He added Westhead regularly does work at people’s homes and “doesn’t undertake that work solely for the purpose of committing a theft”.

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Passing sentence on Westhead, of HMP Altcourse, judge Robert Trevor-Jones said there would be a starting point of “two years” for the “lead offence” of the last theft, which “requires substantial uplifting” for the totality of his offending to three and a half years.

He reduced this by 25 per cent due to Westhead’s guilty pleas, making a total of two years and seven months.

The judge added a further eight months consecutively for the breach of Westhead's previous suspended sentence, making a total term of three years and three months.