A TEAM of crooks hatched a plot to steal from a disabled £1m lottery winner and spend the money on betting websites.

Jacob Tindall has become he fifth person to be sentenced for what a judge described as a "sophisticated and determined plan, and he told the 32-year-old: "It was a very callous conspiracy."

Tindall was jailed for a total of five years after he admitted theft, conspiracy to steal, fraud and dangerous driving.

His brother Jamie Tindall, 29, got three-and-a-half years, their cousin Aaron Harvey, 26, and workmate Lee Khan, 31, were each given three years, and Jamie Tindall's girlfriend Kayleigh Robinson, 25, received an eight-month suspended sentence.

The two brothers did not turn up at Teesside Crown Court when the others were sentenced in April, and fled to Spain.

The court heard that the vulnerable victim's cash was squandered on betting websites and her identity used to place more than £41,000 of bets in 100 minutes.

Prosecutor Joanne Kidd told the court that the gang “curried favour” with the victim knowing she had money.

Harvey started seeing the woman to get close to her and get hold of her bank card, driving licence and utility bills.

Ms Kidd said there was “a deliberate and sophisticated plan” to gamble away her money from an oil rig in the North Sea.

A bogus betting online account was set up under the victim’s name from the oil platform where Khan and Jacob Tindall worked.

Her bank account was used to bet £41,200 in 100 minutes.

When the betting company became concerned and froze the account, the thieves tried to persuade the firm to reopen it.

Screenshots of the victim’s card, gas bill and driving licence were sent to back up their dishonest appeals.

Jamie Tindall’s girlfriend Kayleigh Robinson, 25, was even used to pose as the victim in a phone call.

Meanwhile the gang carried on placing fraudulent bets on other sites, using her identity to apply for credit cards with five companies.

Khan invested £15,500 of her money in a share dealing account and paid off two credit cards.

The woman discovered a total of £60,000 had been stolen from her after her card was rejected.

Even after the betting company returned money to the victim, she was still £16,414 out of pocket.

And her health worsened profoundly because of the crimes, leaving her “sick, beaten and saddened”.

Harvey, of Costa Street; Khan, of Leven Street; Jacob Tindall, of Conyers Way, all in Middlesbrough; Jamie Tindall, of no fixed address; and Robinson, of Tranmere Avenue, Middlesbrough , all admitted conspiracy to steal.

All except Robinson had denied the conspiracy and begun a trial, putting the victim through the ordeal of giving evidence before they finally owned up in February.

Khan also admitted three thefts.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, said it was a mean, despicable and planned offence.

“You were after her money, plain and simple,” he told the men.

“Had it not been for the fact that this account was frozen, I have absolutely no doubt the conspiracy would have continued until you fleeced her of all the money.

“The effect of this conspiracy was devastating.”

She said she was in abusive relationship and was scared to refuse her then boyfriend’s request to get involved.

Christopher Knox, for Jacob Tindall, said: "He was not a friend of this girl. He knew her. It would be wrong to put him at the forefront of this."

The court heard that he had also been involved in a fraud in October 2014 when he got finance to buy a £23,000 Mercedes with a promise to pay a deposit regular instalments, but never did.

In March 2013, he stole bottles of wine after breaking into a garage in Great Ayton, and in 2016 he crashed his BMW X6 on Ormesby Road in Middlesbrough, wrecking some and putting three other motorists in hospital, one of whom had to be cut from the wreckage of her Land Rover Freelander.

Judge Bourne-Arton suggested the officer who led the case, Detective Constable Rachel Graham, should receive a chief constable's commendation for her work.

Det Con Graham, of the Cleveland Police Fraud Investigation Team, said after the case: "This was a protracted and extremely complex investigation involving a vulnerable female victim.

"She was targeted, I believe, specifically because of her vulnerability and the fact she had won a substantial amount of money on the lottery in 2013. I would personally like to thank her for her patience and tenacity.

“The defendants in this case were callous; they pretended to be her friends, one even took the role of the victim’s boyfriend to get close enough to steal her bank card and personal identification number.

"The defendants befriended her with one despicable motive; to steal large amounts of money from her by assuming her identity, accessing her bank account and making free with her funds.

“The suspects opened credit cards and transferred money into one of their share dealing accounts. On a single bank holiday weekend in April 2014 they reached around £75,000.00 in transactions by opening accounts on several betting websites.

“Thankfully, the victim was able to be refunded most of her stolen money, and therefore there was some damage limitation.

“The Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) has been a massive help to the victim in this case. The whole case was drawn out over a longer period of time because of the actions of some of the defendants who fled abroad to Spain.

“Cleveland Police welcomes today’s sentence; it demonstrates that police and the courts take an extremely serious view of anyone committing fraud. It should also serve as a stark warning to anyone who believes a vulnerable person is an easy target.

"We will not tolerate this; even if we have to travel to bring you back from abroad, you will be caught and you will be brought to justice.”