A CALLOUS thief who befriended a pensioner so he could swindle money out of him at the cashpoint has been told he would not know honesty ‘if it jumped up and slapped him in the face’.

Heavily convicted Richard Calvert targeted a 69-year-old man who was out shopping in Barnard Castle by offering to help him use the cash machine.

The 44-year-old gained the older man’s trust by being so familiar he thought he must know him.

But instead the conman tricked his victim into withdrawing £300 before handing over the £40 the man wanted and leaving the scene.

Ashley Leach, prosecuting at Durham Crown Court, said: “He was approached by the defendant who said: ‘hello mate, how are you?’

“He felt ashamed and embarrassed. He felt he should know the defendant.

“He lost his house-keeping budget for the week and was unable to buy his wife’s Christmas presents.

“It has caused sleepless nights as well as stress and anxiety for his wife. It has left him feeling vulnerable.”

The court was told the incident took place on December 5, but Calvert was only traced later through a single piece of CCTV footage, as well as via an image on social media.

Calvert, of Brockrigg Court, Guisborough, in East Cleveland, admitted a charge of theft when the case was first heard before magistrates, who sent the case for sentence to the crown court.

Mitigating, Shaun Dryden said: “It is a small-minded petty offence and the defendant should be ashamed of himself.”

The defendant has 30 convictions for 107 offences on his record having served prison sentences of differing lengths for theft and burglary, including a four-year term for stealing expensive jewellery, including a ring worth £8,000, in 2013, and nine-months for inviting himself into an elderly man’s home and helping himself to £60 from his wallet, last year.

Jailing him for 14 months, Judge Jonathan Carroll said: “He left the shops and had the misfortune to chance upon you. You targeted him because of his age and thought you could bamboozle him into behaving as you wanted.

“You pretended to be some kind of old mate and he felt embarrassed because you were so familiar with him. It is parasite-like offending, preying on an elderly vulnerable person.

“Your record shows you are incapable of recognising honesty if it jumped up and slapped you in the face.”