A CHURCH handyman who defrauded a house-bound pensioner out of her life savings forcing her to use foodbanks, has been jailed.

Preston Crown Court heard how gambling addict Darrell John Boast fleeced the 82-year-old woman, who the Lancashire Telegraph has decided not to name, of £64,300.

Prosecuting, Joseph Hart said Boast had gained the victim’s trust while carrying out joinery work at the house she lived alone at in Clitheroe in April 2017.

After befriending his victim, doing odd jobs around the house and offering to do her shopping, the court heard 50-year-old Boast gained access to her debit and credit cards, and her bank details.

Mr Hart said Boast initially withdrew small amounts but after time would transfer funds from his victim’s ISA account into her current account and then withdraw it as cash.

In one transaction in June 2017 Boast transferred £7,000 between the victim’s accounts at the Lloyds Bank branch in Clitheroe and withdrew it in cash.

In total Boast withdrew £46,957 from the victim’s Lloyds account and emptied her Nationwide account of just over £16,000. A further £1,200 was placed on her credit card.

Lloyds Bank has since reimbursed the victim in full.

Mr Hart said Nationwide has not given her a penny back because they didn’t feel Boast’s offending fulfilled their fraud criteria as the victim willingly gave him her debit card and PIN.

The court heard Boast’s offending came to light in March 2018 when police were contacted by his wife who said she thought the defendant had defrauded the victim out of £35,000.

When police spoke to the victim she said she had lent Boast money.

At a later date she went on to tell officers that she had initially agreed to lend Boast money but he then took money from her after that without permission.

When officers went to Boast’s home in Somerset Avenue, Wilpshire, in May 2018 they found the victim’s Lloyds debit card and cheques linked to her.

In police interview Boast said he had borrowed some money but he he had also taken money without permission.

He acknowledged what he was doing was wrong and said the majority of the money he had taken was spent on gambling. He had no idea how much he had stolen in total.

Mr Hart said: “This is a lady who came to rely on the defendant. He was essentially her carer in part and the victim’s vulnerability must have been recognised by the defendant.

“Even when these matters started off as loans, he targeted her and he continued taking money off her.”

In a statement to the court the victim described how she hadn’t wanted to tell her family about what Boast had done because she feared they would blame her – something which proved to be the case.

She also described how she had been psychologically damaged by Boast’s treachery, had to contact the Salvation Army for help and was in receipt of food parcels.

Boast pleaded guilty to two counts of theft.

Defending, Bob Elias said his client, a father to eight children, was a hard-working family man who is completely ashamed of what he has done. Mr Elias said Wilpshire Methodist Church had described Boast as an outstanding employee, while his wife said her husband had been gripped by gambling in the same way a heroin addict would be to drugs.

He also said although his client, who earned £2,000-per-month, was not trying to buy his way out of prison he would be willing to compensate the victim by repaying £500 each month.

Mr Elias added: “This sort of offending is mean and unpleasant. It clearly crosses the custody threshold. But in light of his plea, lack of relevant previous convictions, the many good things said about him by those who know him and the fact he can make some sort of contribution towards the victim’s loss, the court might feel it can draw back from immediate custody.”

Sentencing Boast to a year in jail, Judge Simon Newell said this was an offence that would stay with the victim for the rest of her life and the defendant had made no effort to repay her since the offences came to light.