Jail for bogus gas man who conned pensioners

Sheffield Crown Court
Sheffield Crown Court
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A conman who dressed up as a gas board official and tricked his way into pensioners’ homes to steal their cash and belongings has been branded ‘despicable’ by a judge who jailed him for seven years.

Christopher Anthony Hepple, aged 35, conned his way into three OAPs’ homes in South Yorkshire, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

He admitted the offences - and asked for eight similar burglaries to be taken into consideration.

Judge Paul Watson said they were ‘mean’ and ‘despicable’ crimes, adding: “Society requires that the elderly be protected, and the courts will do everything they can.

“You were jailed for five years in 2008 for 10 similar burglaries. You plainly did not learn your lesson.”

Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said the first distraction burglary was in Lytton Close, Doncaster, on April 22.

A 77-year-old woman who lived alone answered the door to a man in a high visibility tabard with an ID badge around his neck.

“He informed her he was from the gas board and was making checks,” said Mr Coxon.

She showed him into the bathroom and he pretended to inspect the boiler.

But while she was out of sight, Hepple took her bank cards and £45 from her handbag.

On April 24 in Ravenholt, Worsborough, he targeted an 83-year-old woman. She let Hepple in, believing he was from the gas board, because of his high visibility jacket and workmen’s trousers.

Hepple, of Dixon Crescent, Balby, Doncaster, had a conversation with her about gas and electricity, but stole £300 when her back was turned.

He also targeted a retired steel worker, aged 91, who had served for 13 years in the RAF. The man was at home in Gray Street, Elsecar, Barnsley, when Hepple tricked his way in - but on that occasion he failed to steal anything.