Brothers convicted of stealing nearly £74,000 from OAP

Hughie and Francis Doherty
Hughie and Francis Doherty

Two brothers have been convicted of stealing nearly £74,000 from an old lady in Blunham and attempting to steal a further £15,000 from her.

Francis and Hughie Doherty were found guilty at Luton Crown Court today (Friday) and remanded in custody pending sentence.

The brothers from Irchester and Rushden were told By Judge Stuart Bridge that a prison sentence is inevitable.

The pair said they played no part in the theft of the money and made their living breeding a horse known as the Gypsy Cob.

During their trial, the jury was told the victim of the theft was a woman in her 80s who lived on her own in Blunham and who was in the early stages of dementia.

The prosecution claim that in the summer of 2010 she received a telephone call from a man calling himself Oliver who spoke with a posh accent and said he was a solicitor.

The court heard the man claimed he could help her get money back that she had lost as a result of having her driveway resurfaced back in 2004.

Ian McLoughlin, for the crown, said the woman was told by the man on the phone she would have to pay for legal services and, as a result, was persuaded to cash in insurance policies.

The jury heard that in the months that followed she got cash out of her bank account on eight occasions which, following instructions from the man Oliver, she put in envelopes and left them at either a bus stop in Blunham or at a nearby lay-by.

The prosecutor said: “She didn’t confide in her family or say what was going on.

“No legal work was being carried out for her.

“She was being taken for the money.

“All the money was stolen from her.”

Between the summer of 2010 and February 2011, she left £73,700 in either the bus stop or the lay-by.

The jury was told that by March 2011 Beds Police had been alerted by the woman’s family as to what had been going on and mounted an operation.

On March 15, she once more received a call from the man called Oliver telling her she should go to the bank that day and withdraw £15,000.

That morning, Mr McLoughlin said a green Range Rover with three men inside was seen by the police to drive slowly past the woman’s home twice.

Not long afterwards it was involved in a short police chase before stopping.

Inside the car, which belonged to Francis Doherty, were the brothers plus their brother-in-law David Young, who the court was told has since admitted stealing the £73,700 from the woman and attempting to steal a further £15,000.

Also in the car was a mobile phone which had been smashed up.

Mr McLouglin said a police sniffer dog and it’s handler later followed the route the green Range Rover had taken during the short chase and, as a result, three pieces of paper were found by the roadside, one of which had the name of the pensioner written on it together with her phone number.

The prosecutor said a fingerprint from Francis Doherty’s left forefinger was later found on one of the pieces of paper.

And, the jury was told, when the smashed up mobile phone was analysed, it was discovered that it had been used to make 13 calls to the woman’s home that day.

Francis Doherty, 36, of Gipsy Lane, Irchester, and his 31-year-old brother Hughie of Newton Road, Rushden, pleaded not guilty to the theft of £73,700 from the elderly woman between June 2010 and February 2011.

They denied a second charge of attempting to steal £15,000 from her in March 2011 on the day of their arrest.

Both the brothers told the jury they had gone to the Blunham area that day to go hare coursing

They claimed Mr Young had told them he knew where hares could be found and they were following his directions.

Following the jury’s verdicts, the brothers were remanded in custody for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

But the judge warned the pair: “A custodial sentence is inevitable.”