‘Vulture’ stole Nelson great-gran's £4,000 life savings

Lancashire Telegraph: TRICKED Martin Loughlin TRICKED Martin Loughlin

A BOGUS workman who stole the £4,000 life savings of a great-grandmother and her son has been described as a ‘vulture’ by his victims.

Recovering drug addict Terry Lawrence, was jailed after intimidating 55-year-old Martin Loughlin into handing over his nest egg of £2,000, in October 2011 for a series of small gardening jobs.

The 23-year-old cold caller conned his way into his victim’s home in Townhouse Road, Nelson claiming he needed more cash to buy materials so he could continue the work, Burnley Crown Court heard.

But once Lawrence, who was jailed for nine months, was in the property he got two accomplices to distract Mr Loughlin.

He then followed 82-year-old Patricia Loughlin upstairs and grabbed £2,000 in a paper bag from her bedroom, prosecutors said.

Mr Loughlin said: “From the moment Lawrence came into the house I felt there was something sinister about him.

“He was demanding money and I was really intimidated. My mother was in the house and I was scared for her safety so I thought it was better to pay him and get him out than risk anything else.

“Lawrence is a vulture. I think he should have been locked up for at least five years. I was planning a holiday with that money.”

The court heard Lawrence had done a number of gardening jobs over a three day period at the Loughlins' home after knocking on the front door looking for work.

But none of the jobs would have cost anything like the £4,000 taken, prosecutors said.

Mother-of-five Mrs Loughlin, who suffers from heart problems, said: “I am just so angry. How dare they come in my home, intimidate us and then steal our money.

“I had just come out of hospital after an operation on my heart. If I had been well I might have been able to chase him out the house.

“I was so shocked when he came into my bedroom.

“Afterwards all I could think about was whether they would come back. It’s awful.”

Prosecutors told the hearing Lawrence had a number of aliases, was a convicted fraudster and had previously been locked up after he pretended to be a police officer.

The defendant had been rumbled last year over the thefts when a police officer doing some work with the prison service saw his photograph and recognised him as the man Mr Loughlin had identified.

Lawrence, a father-to-be and engaged to be married, was said by his barrister to now be a changed man. The defendant, of Wolfenden Street, Bolton, admitted two charges of theft.

The court heard the defendant attended the house in Nelson in September 2011, calling himself Martin, with an older, Irish man, who he said was his father and a younger male.

The men asked the victims if they wanted any gardening work done and at first a ‘relatively reasonable’ price was agreed.

On October 1, the defendant and the man he said was his father returned and he demanded £4,000.

Police were called and several days later Mr Loughlin saw the defendant drinking outside a local pub.

CCTV footage was obtained, the police looked at it, but it wasn't until 2012 when the officer spotted his photo in prison that he was connected with the thefts.

The defendant who has 16 previous convictions was arrested in July and Mr Loughlin picked him out on a video identification parade.

Defending Lawrence, Bernice Campbell said what he had done was ‘horrendous’ but added: "He's a different person than the person that did that act a year-and-a-half ago."

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman said: "It really is a very mean offence indeed and must make the victims feel extremely angry and upset, losing their life savings.

" I would not be doing my public duty if I were not to mark these offences by an immediate custodial sentence."

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