Two Romanian migrants have been jailed for posing as National Health Service (NHS) workers in order to defraud an 83-year-old widow in her home.
29-year-old Andra Gheorghe and 31-year-old Florin Butonasi are said to have scouted for victims at an ASDA supermarket, trailing the elderly great-great grandmother back to her home in South Shields and claiming to be health workers carrying out a survey in order to gain access to her home and steal her bank card.
Having observed her pin at the supermarket, they drained her account of £500 and attempted to go on a spending spree, executing a £100 transaction at TK Maxx successfully before two further purchase attempts were declined, according to a Metro report.
The stolen card was found in a hotel room being used by the migrants after the authorities began investigating.
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“The victim says there has been a significant impact on her,” said judge Amanda Rippon, referring to a Victim Impact Statement.
“She has lost her appetite. She’s been having dizzy spells, she’s not sleeping. She doesn’t feel safe in her own home anymore,” she said.
“Her husband passed away two years ago so she has been living alone. She had been trying to save up for presents for her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.”
The judge condemned the pair’s crime as “a despicable, disgusting and abhorrent offence.”
“I have not got the slightest doubt that you were both in the supermarket looking for a victim – a vulnerable victim,” she said.
“It is hard for me to begin to imagine what it’s like to be 83 in the middle of a pandemic. She opened the door and was pleased to see visitors from the NHS and she invited you into her home,” she continued, adding that there was “no mitigation” in sentencing them but their guilty pleas.
Their punishment was not particularly severe, however, with Gheorghe, who has “a history of dishonesty offences”, according to reports, being sentenced to four years, and Butonas to three years and eight months.
Criminals in Britain handed non-“life” sentences almost never serve them in full, however, usually being entitled to automatic early release on licence at the halfway point or, more rarely, two-thirds point in their terms.
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