Man who fleeced sick woman escapes jail term

A MAN who befriended an ill woman went on to fleece her of all her savings, a court heard. Sam Chapman was told by a judge: You took advantage of her illness, generosity, kindness and trust. Judge Barbara Mensah said 31-year-old Chapman deserved a priso

A MAN who befriended an ill woman went on to fleece her of all her savings, a court heard.

Sam Chapman was told by a judge: "You took advantage of her illness, generosity, kindness and trust."

Judge Barbara Mensah said 31-year-old Chapman deserved a prison sentence but she was suspending it so that he could begin paying compensation to his victim.

Chapman, of Pearsall Close, Letchworth GC pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to 12 charges of theft and two of fraud committed during 2006 and 2007.

Yesterday (Thursday) he was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay �3,575 compensation.

Prosecutor Heather Shimmen said the 48-year-old woman had health problems and was confined to bed for much of the time.

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Chapman offered to decorate her home in North Herts because she wanted to sell it and also did shopping for her.

She trusted him with her bank card and PIN, said the prosecutor.

She also "lent" him �2,000 when he said he was hoping to open a pet shop but there was a delay in getting a bank loan.

On another occasion she gave him �80 when he said he could get her a sofa and coffee table.

After she sold her house the pair spent some time staying at hotels around the country during which time he ordered two expensive bottles of champagne, paid for with her card.

By January last year she discovered the full extent of what he had been doing and reported the matter to police.

He was not seen again until he went to police in Portsmouth having discovered his mother had reported him missing. He was then told that Hertfordshire police wanted to question him.

Miss Shimmen said Chapman made admissions in interview.

Emma Goodall, defending, said: "He is unbelievably sorry for the harm he has caused. He is unable to put his remorse into words.

"The relationship began without any cynicism. He was moved by a sense of altruism because of the situation she was in.

"Regrettably he had problems of his own and the money he took was being used to finance addictions that he had."

Sentencing Chapman, Judge Mensah quoted from the victim's statement in which she said as a result of the offences her life had totally collapsed.

It said: "I have lost all of my personal possessions and suffered enormous stress and strain. I am now living in homeless accommodation. I am shocked that one person has been able to strip me of all I own.

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