A COMMUNITY united in grief at yesterday's funeral of a pensioner who was targeted by a con-man.

Residents of Haswell, County Durham, including close friends and family of George Sharpe, packed the village's St Paul's Church for the service.

Mr Sharpe, 82, died of a heart attack hours after a man conned his way into his home in Faraday Terrace, Haswell, on January 8.

The caller, who claimed to be a council worker, had visited him the previous Sunday, but had been sent away empty handed.

On his return, he stole £200 from a drawer, putting the frail widower in a state of shock and distress, which hastened his death.

Yesterday, the Reverend John Masshedar, of St Paul's, said the whole village felt a sense of shock, sadness and anger at what had happened.

He said: "Our support, gratitude and prayers go with the police as they seek to bring to justice whoever committed this cowardly and despicable act."

Mr Masshedar said that after churchgoer Mr Sharpe had £2,700 stolen by a bogus caller a year ago, local businesses, pubs and residents rallied to help him.

He said the former council drainage inspector had been devoted to his wife, Gladys, who died three years ago.

He said that following Mr Sharpe's death, his family had been comforted by support from the community, police and the media.

A police spokesman said officers were still hopeful of catching the bogus caller, who targeted another pensioner in nearby Shotton Colliery half an hour after Mr Sharpe, on January 8.

"A great deal of information has been received and is being worked through systematically," he said.