Conman who targeted Embsay pensioner, 90, is jailed

Craven Herald: Stewart Marshall Stewart Marshall

A conman has been jailed for eight years for deliberately targeting old, disabled and vulnerable householders to strip them of their cash and valuables.

Stewart Marshall, who knocked on doors to select suitable victims, was branded “mean, selfish and greedy” by the judge who locked him up on Monday.

Marshall, who literally stole rings from the fingers of a 90-year-old Embsay widow, went cold-calling with his “determined conman’s kit” of bogus identification cards and badges.

He tricked his way into the homes of elderly people with dementia, mobility problems and blindness.

Among his victims was Joan Cottam, 90, of Embsay, who was tricked into handing over her wedding ring.

Giving evidence via a video link from her home, Mrs Cottam, who has mobility and memory problems, struggled to fully recall what happened when a man called round saying the roof wanted fixing.

The jury was told she lost more than £11,000 by issuing cheques for work on her home.

She said a man called round about the roof, accompanied by a lady claiming to be his wife who he told her cleaned rings. Mrs Cottam recalled taking off her wedding, engagement and eternity rings and giving them to the man. She told officers she was feeling “pretty grim” about what had happened to her.

“I could scream you know,” she said, adding that she wanted to clout the man who took her rings.

Marshall, 44, of Mayfield Rise, Wyke, Bradford, was convicted by a jury at Bradford Crown Court on Friday of conspiracy to burgle, between August, 2011, and June this year, and converting criminal property.

The court heard that he and others knocked on doors supposedly canvassing for home improvement work and, when a likely victim was found, a note was made.

Police found names and addresses at Marshall’s home, with endorsements such as “Nutty old bat”, “Mrs disabled” and “Mr has Alzheimer’s and we have been at the door before”.

Victims, with an average age of 90, had thousands of pounds stolen from them.

Marshall’s barrister, Ken Green, said he had struggled with drugs misuse over a long period and had been in custody for six months.

But Judge Potter said: “This was planned and premeditated burglary of a number of dwellings. The premises were targeted on the basis of their occupants being vulnerable or elderly and all were present in their homes when you stole from them. This was mean, selfish offending inspired by greed.”

Marshall’s former work colleague, and his partner and daughter were all cleared of any involvement in his criminality.

Len Lawrence, 49, of Bush Hill Fold, Queensbury, was acquitted of conspiracy to burgle, Paige Marshall, 20, of Mayfield Rise, Wyke, was found not guilty of converting criminal property, and Emma Croasdell, 38, also of Mayfield Rise, was cleared of arranging to control criminal property.

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