Builder Andrew Nichols, of London Road, Sheffield, struck up a friendship with the 85-year-old widower after doing some work in his house in 2003.
However, as the man grew older and frailer, 43-year-old Nichols started taking control of his finances, pension and bank account. He even diverted one of the victim’s pensions into his own account and used the elderly man’s finances to cover his business costs.
When the elderly man had to be taken into a care home in 2016, Nichols continued to use his bank card as if it were his own, purchasing building materials for his business, fuel for his vehicle, nights in the pub and days out.
At Sheffield Crown Court , Nichols was jailed for 27 months for stealing more than £23,000 from the victim between 2016 and 2019.
DC Richard Tanswell, from the force’s Financial Crime Investigation Unit (FCIU), said: “We were first made aware of unusual activity in the victim’s bank account in 2019. By this time, the victim, who was well into his 80s, had been living in a care home for a number of years, but the spending on the account included trips to Nando’s, bowling and even adventure golf. Of course, none of this was characteristic spending of an elderly gentleman in a care home and my suspicions were obviously raised.”
DC Tanswell conducted extensive enquiries, which ultimately identified Nichols as the offender.
DC Tanswell said: “When Nichols was arrested, he was in possession of the victim’s bank card and house keys. Officers attended the victim’s home address and found the property to be in a very poor state, with piles of building materials, equipment and general rubbish untidily strewn inside most of the rooms. Nichols had been using the man’s home as a storage facility after he had been admitted to a care home and even abandoned his old white transit van, with flat tyres, on the driveway.
“The victim had been warned by family members about ‘Andy the builder’, and told that he was taking advantage of him, but the man truly believed he was just ‘helping him out’ and doing a favour for a ‘friend’.
“In interview, Nichols told us that he had been planning to pay back all of the money, but I am satisfied the only thing he is sorry about is that he was caught and identified.”
DC Tanswell added: “I am pleased Nichols has finally faced the consequences of his actions but, tragically, his victim died in September this year. I hope the victim’s family feels there is some closure on this horrendous ordeal committed against an elderly, vulnerable and lonely gentleman.”
Nichols pleaded guilty on 27 October to fraud totalling £23,261.32 between 8 November 2016 and 5 February 2019. He was sentenced today (Friday 4 December) at Sheffield Crown Court.