A CONMAN who cheated a woman in her 90s out of her life savings is behind bars after being arrested at a holiday park.
Gerald Bown, 58, was sentenced to 40 months in prison in his absence for a charge of obtaining property by deception dating back 12 years.
He failed to turn up for the sentence hearing at Dorchester Crown Court, where details were revealed of how Bown befriended Winifred Brinton – who was in her 90s – and subsequently scammed her out of nearly £22,000.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Bown and he was apprehended two weeks ago at Butlins in Minehead, Somerset.
Robin Leach, representing Bown, said his client had been at the holiday park with his wife and sisters.
Bown, of Bridlebank Way, Wey-mouth, admitted failing to attend court without reasonable excuse for sentencing hearing and Judge Roger Jarvis imposed an additional two months’ prison sentence to run consecutive to the original term.
Mrs Brinton died in February and grandson James said the news of Bown’s arrest had come as a welcome relief to his family.
He said: “It’s very good news, I’m glad he has been caught as it has been weighing on our minds for a while not knowing whether he was in prison or not and to know he has been tracked down is good.
“I’m very pleased to hear that he hasn’t been allowed to get away with making a mockery of and ignoring court orders.”
Bown gained Mrs Brinton’s trust after offering to carry out maintenance work for her and convinced her to lend him money with the promise to pay her back, eventually persuading her to part with her life savings.
Following the sentence hearing Mr Brinton told how Bown’s behaviour had taken his grandmother’s dignity and pride as well as her money and ‘left her waiting to die’.
Bown, who will now serve a 42-month prison sentence, was initially arrested in 2003 but moved address after being bailed and was not tracked down until 2010.
The defendant then missed a number of court appearances after complaining of chest pains and being taken to hospital, only to discharge himself the same day.
Judge Jarvis said: “There is a lengthy history going back over several years while the victim’s family have waited for what they see as justice.”