A CONMAN who duped kind-hearted homeowners into donating money for a fictitious charity bike ride by telling them his mother had died from cancer is today (Tuesday, July 30) starting an 18-week prison sentence.
David Harrison, together with his wife, Lyndsey, conned innocent Darlington residents into handing over their cash by knocking on doors between April 26 and June 5, pretending to be collecting money for a bike ride in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard.
At an earlier hearing, magistrates in Newton Aycliffe were told the 31-year-old fraudster and his 23-year-old wife dishonestly collected £240, which they used to pay for shopping, gas, electricity and dog food.
Prosecutor Lynne Dalton said four victims had come forward, including one man who lost his son to cancer and handed over £10 to Harrison’s wife.
She said one suspicious homeowner reported the pair to the police on June 4 after they knocked on their door, but, after showing the officer the sponsor forms and claiming to be completing the challenge on June 10, they were allowed on their way.
However after checking with Macmillan, the officer discovered the charity had no record of the pair working for them, or fundraising for them.
In mitigation, Sonny Lawson said the couple, of North Road, in Darlington, began their sham after their benefits were stopped, but were now desperate to pay the money back to their victims.
Harrison, who is on licence from prison and has a Class A drug addiction, admitted three charges of fraud by false representation in which he took £2 from one person, £3 from another and £5 from a third.
Sentencing him to 18 weeks in custody, district judge Adrian Lower told Harrison: “These were three separate offences where you were telling some bare faced lies.
“The amount of money in total does not sound that great, but it is where that money was intended to go that is important.”
As uniformed police officers arrived to take Harrison to custody, his tearful wife, who also admitted one charge of fraud by false representation, embraced and kissed him before saying goodbye.
After hearing how she was easily manipulated by her husband, Judge Lower sentenced her to a 12-month community order with 12 months of supervision. She was also ordered to pay £10 in compensation.