Despicable gang preyed on woman with dementia

Hughie and Francis Doherty, and David Young
Hughie and Francis Doherty, and David Young

A third man has been jailed for his part in conning an elderly woman with dementia out of nearly £74,000.

Francis Doherty, 36, his brother Hughie and their brother-in-law David Young conned their 84-year-old victim out of £73,500 from her life savings.

They were caught when her bank manager became suspicious as they tried to take another £15,000 from the widow, who lived alone in the village of Blunham, Bedfordshire.

The Doherty brothers claimed they played no part in the theft of the money and made their living breeding a horse known as the Gypsy Cob, but were convicted by a jury at Luton Crown Court at an earlier hearing.

The woman, in the early stages of dementia, received a telephone call in the summer of 2010 from a man calling himself Oliver and claiming to be a solicitor.

He said he could help her get back the £25,000 she had lost when she had been the victim of conmen, who had also claimed they could retrieve the money she had handed over to lawyers after shoddy work had been carried out on her driveway in 2004.

The victim was told she would have to pay for advanced legal services and, as a result, was persuaded to cash in insurance policies.

In the months that followed, she got cash out of her bank account on eight occasions which she put in envelopes and left at either a bus stop in Blunham or at a nearby lay-by.

Between summer 2010 and February 2011, she handed over £73,500.

David Stanton, prosecuting, said none of the money had ever been recovered, and said: “These despicable offences were a planned operation by three defendants who took advantage of an 84-year-old woman who was suffering from dementia.

“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.”

Francis Doherty, of Gipsy Lane, Irchester, and brother Hughie, 31, of Newton Road, Rushden, denied the theft of £73,700 from the 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.

They were convicted of both charges.

Young, 31, of Ermine Way, Arrington near Royston, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Francis Doherty’s barrister Peter Higginson said he was held in high standing in the community with his neighbours and priest.

Judge Stuart Bridge jailed Francis for four-and-a-half years this week after Hughie was jailed for a total of five years and Young given three-and-a-half years last month.

The judge said the effect on the victim was painful and humiliating and caused a deterioration in her health from which she’ll never recover.