Three years jail for fraudster who stole from disabled cousin

Stephen Emmett
Stephen Emmett
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A man who set up 39 Paypal accounts in a bid to defraud his disabled cousin has been jailed for three years after a judge ruled he had shown no remorse to his victim.

Stephen Emmett, 26, of West End Road, Morecambe, shook his head as sentence was passed.

Vulnerable victim Matthew Fernandez, also 26, is unable to read or write and trusted Emmett, whom he had viewed as a “brother”, Preston Crown Court heard.

But Emmett exploited his vulnerabilities by launching a sophisticated fraud involving setting up new accounts with the online banking service Paypal.

Prosecuting, David Clarke revealed he pocketed £5,760.45, which he blew on gym memberships, tyres and takeaway food amongst other goods.

Emmett lied that his disabled cousin had given him the bank details and asked him to buy lingerie and sex toys for prostitutes with the cash from his accounts.

But he was found guilty by Lancaster Magistrates’ Court of four counts of fraud and was committed to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced. His vulnerable victim had to be assisted to give evidence.

Recorder Christopher Kennedy QC said: “You were convicted of four offences of fraud whereby you defrauded Matthew Fernandez of £5,760.45 - a lot of money to him. He is of a similar age to you, I accept he is a vulnerable individual, He struggles to read, struggles socially and lives alone in a caravan at his place of work.

“You took his financial details and set up a number of accounts and you used his money for goods and services.

“Your case falls in the highest degree of culpability. You abused his trust - as you said, you were like brothers.

“These were sophisticated offences which involved planning. You were careful to ensure the accounts didn’t go into red thereby to stimulate contact from the bank. You waited to make your purchases until he got paid.

“I find you deliberately targeted him because he was vulnerable.”

Emmett has 12 previous offences, the majority motoring matters.

Defending, James Heyworth said Emmett lived with his partner and six year old daughter.

He added: “ Back in 2011 his partner had left him alone with their child and he took a rather reckless approach to life.”