A DOOSTEP conman is behind bars after preying on a pensioner and trying to persuade her to hand over cash.

David Sewell entered the 91-year-old woman’s home in the Horsley Hill area of South Shields, in July last year.

The fraudster falsely claimed he was collecting money for a relative who had been cleaning her windows.

But he received a shock with the timely arrival of the woman’s son who happened to drop in to see his mother.

Sewell was caught in the act in the the house and, as the woman’s son knew his story was fabricated, the conman fled empty-handed.

Officers quickly identified him as their prime suspect and placed him under arrest.

In interview, he insisted he was innocent and continued to claim he was collecting money for his relative’s window cleaning business.

But, on the day of his scheduled trial at Newcastle Crown Court, last week, the 42-year-old defendant, of Beach Road, South Shields, admitted burglary with intent to steal and received an 11-month prison sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, PC Shaun Smith, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a case of an opportunistic crook trying to take advantage of a vulnerable woman and take her money.

“It is absolutely despicable and, had her son not have returned home when he did, Sewell may well have left with cash that he had absolutely no right to.

“I am pleased he is now serving a jail term and would ask members of the public to be aware of this type of criminality.

“Please talk to your loved ones, particularly those who are elderly or who may live alone.

“If someone turns up at your door unannounced, or is acting suspiciously, do not hand over any money and report it to police.”