Brothers from Irchester and Rushden deny conning OAP out of £74,000

Hughie and Francis Doherty

Hughie and Francis Doherty

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Two brothers have denied stealing £74,000 from an old lady and told a jury they made their living legitimately breeding and selling horses.

Francis Doherty, of Gipsy Lane, Irchester, and his brother Hughie, of Newton Road, Rushden, each told the court they specialised in breeding Gypsy Cobs.

The men told Luton Crown Court they had played no part in the theft of £73,700 from the woman who lived in the village of Blunham in Beds.

It is alleged they conned the woman, who is in her 80s and was in the early stages of dementia, into leaving packages of money at a bus stop or lay-by to pay for legal services in a bid to recoup money lost having her drive resurfaced in 2004.

Both men claim they were in the Blunham area on the day of their arrest in March 2011 because they were hare coursing.

They said with them that day was a third man, their brother-in-law David Young, who the jury have been told has since gone on to admit stealing the money from the woman.

Speaking about the arrest, Francis Doherty, 36, told the court: “I was just driving along thinking I was going to get pulled for hare coursing.”

The jury was told police officers pulled over a green Range Rover belonging to Francis after a short chase and discovered the brothers and Young in the car with a Lurcher dog. Also in the car was a smashed up mobile phone which had been used to call the victim’s home 13 times that day.

Pieces of paper with Francis’ fingerprint and containing the pensioner’s name and phone number were discovered along the roadside.

Channel 4 film director Leo Maguire gave evidence for Hughie Doherty saying between the spring of 2009 and December of 2011 he had spent a lot of time living on the same site with him and his family for the making of a documentary called Gipsy Blood about bare knuckle fighting within the travelling community.

He said he never saw him involved in any thefts.

The case continues.