Four men sentenced for defrauding elderly residents

Clockwise from top left: Fuller, Gasson, Mitchell and Heron. Photo property of Sussex Police
Clockwise from top left: Fuller, Gasson, Mitchell and Heron. Photo property of Sussex Police
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Four Sussex and Surrey men were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Monday August 5 for defrauding two elderly Warnham and Henfield residents, both in their 80’s, out of substantial amounts of money by purporting to be working on water supply and roofing problems at their addresses, said Sussex Police.

Two had been convicted at Hove Crown Court on Friday June 21 after a week-long trial, and the other three had pleaded guilty before the trial.

Stephen Gasson, 28, of Nelson Close, Sompting, West Sussex, was convicted of overcharging the Henfield resident during 2011 of £22,500 claiming that roofing repairs were needed at the address. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

Cornelius Mitchell, 40, of Osborne Drive, Sompting, was convicted of overcharging the Henfield resident of £7,400 during 2011, claiming that roofing repairs were needed at the address. He was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment and was ordered to pay £7,400 compensation to the victim.

Jessie Fuller, 21, of Parsonage Road, Cranleigh, Surrey, was convicted of the Warnham and Henfield offences, and with an offence of making off without payment of £30 in 2011. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

Christopher Heron, 24, of Smithwood Avenue, Cranleigh, pleaded guilty to the Warnham offence, and also of defrauding the same man of a substantial quantity of money by falsely claiming that roofing work was needed at the address in 2010. He was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.

The sentences follow an investigation by the Economic Crime Unit of Sussex Police.

Detective Constable Dan Clark said: “We will always do whatever we can to protect our elderly and vulnerable and will seek to prosecute those who offend against them.

“This case serves as a reminder to residents, especially the elderly - do not get involved with cold callers, whether on the phone or at the door, without making sure exactly who they really are and that they have a genuine reason for contacting you.

He added: “Don’t agree to anything on the spot. Check them out with Trading Standards, neighbours, your own insurers, legal advisers and the police if necessary.

“And if you feel at all threatened or worried just dial 999 and our officers will be only too glad to come round and help check them out.”

A fifth man, Thomas Owen, 23, of Lower Green Road, Esher, Surrey, had previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the Warnham man out of £2,900 during 2011, by falsely claiming that replacement water filters were needed at his address.

He continues to be on bail until his sentencing on August 20 when the court will have received pre-sentence reports.