BREAKING

Maidstone Distraction burglar who targeted Pensioners is jailed

A doorstep criminal who pretended to be a plumber has been jailed for stealing cash from a Maidstone pensioner.

At around 5pm on 4 September 2018, John Gallagher went to an address in the Fant area of Maidstone wearing a high-visibility tabard and rang the doorbell.

The occupant, a woman in her 80s, answered the door and Gallagher said her neighbour’s house had been flooded and he needed to come in to turn off the water supply.

He entered and asked the victim to stand in the kitchen, then walked out of sight towards the bathroom.

Gallagher shouted that she should turn the taps on and off repeatedly, however, the pensioner became suspicious and asked him to leave.

She later found her handbag had been moved in an adjacent room and more than £200 had been stolen.

His visit to the address had been recorded on CCTV and he was arrested on 4 December 2018 and later charged with burglary.

Gallagher, 49, of Pudding Lane, Maidstone pleaded not guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and was convicted on Tuesday 21 May after a two-day trial. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

District Commander, Chief Inspector Ray Quiller said: ‘This was a despicable crime targeting a pensioner who thought she was helping a neighbour.

‘The victim correctly became suspicious and bravely ordered him to leave but he had already stolen her money.

‘It is right that Gallagher is serving a long jail sentence and vulnerable residents are protected from his criminality.

‘I would like to commend the victim and witnesses for their assistance in bringing this burglar to justice.’