Conman locked up for five years

Darren Sharpe
Darren Sharpe
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A CROOKED mobility aid salesman who conned £50,000 from vulnerable people, including nearly 20 victims across South Yorkshire, has been jailed for five years.

Darren Sharpe, aged 42, sold mattress covers to elderly and disabled victims which he claimed had health benefits for ailments such as bad backs and stiff joints.

But the covers were simply ordinary mattress toppers which Sharpe bought for around £30 and then sold on at inflated prices of up to £300 each.

Mobility aids such as scooters and stairlifts were also sold for more than their true worth, or not delivered at all, and unauthorised transactions taken from customers’ credit cards.

Sharpe’s victims included 80-year-old Roy Cusworth and his wife Brenda, from Wombwell, Barnsley.

The conman visited the couple at home and discussed providing assistance for Mrs Cusworth, who had suffered two strokes, has arthritis and a back problem, before selling them a substandard, £30 mattress topper for £280.

“I would never have thought I’d have been taken in by this man,” said Mr Cusworth.

“He came to our house and spent two hours in my home discussing my wife’s needs. We just assumed he was legitimate.”

Sharpe, who worked under the business name Ideal Mobility Solutions, admitted 14 offences of fraud, while a further 16 charges of fraud and theft were taken into consideration.

He also admitted participating in a fraudulent business, and fraudulent trading.

The amount of money taken from the victims ranged from £200 to £5,000 and totalled £50,000.

DC David Porter, from South Yorkshire Police, which investigated Sharpe along with Derbyshire Police and Nottingham Trading Standards, said the five-year sentence was ‘justified’.

“I think any offences which target the elderly, vulnerable and disabled are the most shameful crimes,” said DC Porter.

He said Sharpe, who lived in Mansfield, would arrange meetings with his victims at short notice before spending hours duping them into handing over money.

“Sharpe was a manipulative man who befriended elderly people,” DC Sharpe added. “No doubt, we believe, he affected more people in South Yorkshire.”

He said potential victims should call police on 101.