Lancashire TelegraphEvil scrounger who preyed on Blackburn's elderly is jailed (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Evil scrounger who preyed on Blackburn's elderly is jailed

Lancashire Telegraph: Cheryl Leach and (inset) Albert Cooke Cheryl Leach and (inset) Albert Cooke

A SCROUNGER who forced a pensioner to transfer money into her account from his death bed has been jailed for six months.

Cheryl Leach, branded as ‘despicable’ by the family of her 69-year-old victim, was handed two six-month jail terms to run concurrently after breaching an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO).

The order had been designed to prevent her from targeting vulnerable people for cash after police found she was pestering pensioners by knocking on their doors and windows in the early hours to get money.

On some occasions, she would offer to get their shopping and would take money but never return with any goods, police said.

Preston Crown Court heard the 35-year-old had contacted Albert Cooke, who was suffering from cancer, begging for money. Prosecutors said she told the grandad-of-two she was sorry he was ill but could he give her some money twice before he died on January 21.

Her actions were only uncovered when Mr Cooke’s son Justin found evidence of the bank transfers three weeks before he died.

Mother-of-two Leach, of Mather Street, Bury, who had been banned from entering Blackburn with Darwen, pleaded guilty to breaching the ASBO.

The court heard Leach had previous convictions for burglary, assault and robbery and was in breach of prison licence for a robbery offence. Blackburn with Darwen Council applied for the original ASBO. Coun Yusuf Jan-Virmani, executive member for neighbourhood, housing and customer services, said: “Words cannot describe how despicable her actions were. They are beyond the pale.”

As well as asking for cash, Leach also manipulated former labourer Mr Cooke to buy her driving lessons and a car, his family said.

They had met in a Blackburn pub after Mr Cooke’s wife Joan had died in 2006.

Justin Cooke said he was disappointed with the sentence, adding: “She could now be out in three months.

“The money she stole from my dad will never be returned, he didn’t even have enough money left to may for his own funeral.”

Leach was also fined £80.

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