A CROOK with an ‘appalling record’ for dishonesty tried to con a 78-year-old cancer sufferer out of £200, a court heard.

Drug addict Samuel Simmonite, 36, had claimed the vulnerable victim owed the cash for scaffolding used in repairs allegedly carried out on the pensioner’s home in Nelson by two other men.

The elderly man, who lives with his carer, did not hand over any money, despite Simmonite claiming to him he was married with children, would lose his job and needed to support his family.

The defendant also struck at another house in Nelson the same day, demanding a VAT payment for work done 18 months earlier, but again came away empty-handed.

Simmonite had been on remand for 129 days and had served the equivalent of just under a nine-month sentence.

The defendant, of Larch Street, Nelson, had admitted two counts of attempted fraud on March 21. He received 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and a 12 month drugs programme.

Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, said the victim had previously handed over £250 to two men – not the defendant – who had turned up and told him he needed work doing on his roof tiles.

The barrister said: “The suggestion is no meaningful work was carried out.”

A few days later the pensioner was asked for £75 in VAT, handed over £80, but got no change.

On March 21, Simmonite went to the pensioner's home and asked for £200, telling the victim and his carer it was to pay for scaffolding used to carry out the repairs. Mr Donnelly said: “No scaffolding had at any stage been erected.” The carer contacted the police.

The hearing was told Simmonite had a record of 90 offences, mainly for dishonesty and had served time in the past.

Mark Stuart, for Simmonite, said he had no previous convictions of a similar nature. He had a long-standing drug problem, but had been going to Inspire.

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendant the victim was vulnerable. He said: “They are mean offences.”