Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

New Low for This Scheming Con Artist; WOMAN TARGETED PRIEST AND THEN TRUSTING OLD FOLK

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

New Low for This Scheming Con Artist; WOMAN TARGETED PRIEST AND THEN TRUSTING OLD FOLK

Article excerpt

Byline: HILARY CLIXBY and LAURA CAROE

SCHEMING Vicky Thorpe stooped to a new low to rip off a priest and three trusting pensioners.

Thorpe turned up at St Joseph's Church in Birtley, Gateshead, and was given a small amount of money by Father Anthony Duffy after asking him for cash.

But the 21-year-old also saw the chance to steal a box of envelopes used to collect money on behalf of the church.

And armed with the envelopes, she immediately targeted three elderly women living on a nearby sheltered housing complex, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Thorpe first went to the home of an 80-year-old posing as a church collector - taking the chance to sneak into the bedroom to steal when the victim went to make a cup of tea in the kitchen.

But she left empty-handed when she was disturbed by the pensioner and quickly moved on to a second property where a 73-year-old woman refused her request for a donation.

She finally called at the home of a frail 86-year-old woman - again posing a collector for the church and pointing to St Joseph's indicating that was where she had come from.

"She was carrying the box with the gift aid envelopes and made reference to the vicar," said Geoff Mason, prosecuting.

"She entered the old lady's home. She was uninvited and basically walked in purposefully and the old lady describes walking backwards as she came in.

"She asked for somewhere to sit. She said she had collected pounds 5 and her target was pounds 20. The old lady went into the bedroom and collected pounds 1.50 in loose change which she gave to her."

The court heard Thorpe diverted the woman's attention by asking for a cup of tea and finally left having removed three cheques from a cheque book in a bedroom.

She was arrested nearby after the 86-year-old alerted police having become increasingly suspicious about her behaviour. …

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