Brothers spared jail after stealing �2,000 from elderly Wanstead woman

Two brothers who abused the kindness of an elderly woman by stealing more than �2,000 from her were spared jail on Tuesday.

Paul Allen, 36, told 78-year-old Joan Barmby of Wanstead a series of “sob stories” before asking to borrow �1,300.

The court heard they had met after he cold-called at her house in July 2009, offering to wash her car.

After this, he began visiting her regularly to borrow money and she loaned him �5 each time on the understanding he would pay her back.

When the retired special needs teacher asked for the �1,300, Paul Allen told her his brother Dean, 40, of Chigwell Road, Woodford Green, would paint her house as a repayment, but did not tell the pensioner they were related.

When Dean arrived at her home, he asked to borrow her card to pay for materials, but used it to withdraw �750.

Judge Martyn Zeidman said: “I have no doubt you both deserve a prison sentence. You have both abused the kindness of a good 78-year-old woman.”

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But he spared them jail after hearing they both had drug addictions and mental health problems.

Both were given concurrent year-long jail sentences for each of the counts they admitted, suspended for 18 months, and 60 hours of unpaid work.

Paul, of Sultan Road, Wanstead admitted stealing �1,300 by fraud, and brother Dean admitted two counts of theft, amounting to �750.

Speaking after trial Mrs Barmby said: “I felt very alone and didn’t even tell my friends what was going on.

“With all the promises Paul had given, I still believed I could help him and that I would get my money back.”

Friend Pat Chaney, who alerted police, said: “This has had a detrimental effect on Joan’s wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.”