'Jack-the-lad' conman tricked South Yorkshire pensioners with cheap booze scam

A self-styled "Jack-the-Lad" conned elderly people in Rotherham out of more than £1,000 with orders for cut-price alcohol that were never delivered, a court heard.

By Tim Cunningham
Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 2:06 pm

Paul Wolstenholme first won his victims' trust by claiming to be related to one of their neighbours, prosecutor Stephanie Hollis told Sheffield Crown Court.

Between June 25 and August 20, in 2018, he conned four pensioners and five members of staff at Fosters Garden Centre, making a total of £706 for himself.

He was convicted of dishonesty in October 2018, but went on to make another £558 by swindling five more people, between June 6, and October 11, 2019.

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Sheffield Crown Court.

Ms Hollils described how Wolstenholme cold-called one man, claiming to be a neighbour's nephew, and took him to a cash machine to withdraw £48, on July 24, 2018, but when no delivery was made, he claimed his warehouse had been burgled.

He told one woman that he worked for Bargain Booze and obtained £47 from her, but when she challenged him he said: "You know me - I'm Jack-the-Lad."

A 72-year-old woman who paid Wolstenholme £70 told police she was worried about reprisals as a result of reporting the matter.

Another man in his 70s said he felt "angry and embarrassed" about being tricked and now mistrusted people.

The court heard he has 19 previous convictions, ranging from dishonesty in 1998, when he was 22, to making £525 by fraudulently renting out a flat in 2018.

Rebecca Tanner, mitigating, conceded the offences warranted a prison sentence but asked the court to suspend it.

"He acknowledges these are mean offences," she said. "He has taken advantage of peoples' willingness to trust.”

She said his scaffolding company went bust and he took out £18,000 of unlicensed loans with "thoroughly unpleasant individuals" which led to threats.

He has been saving £200 his benefits towards repaying his victims, Ms Tanner added.

Wolstenholme, 44, of Broom Crescent, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to 16 frauds, after initially denying them.

Recorder Amy Mannion sentenced him to 12 months and banned him from going door-to-door for seven years.

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