Woman is jailed for fraud offences

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A SCARBOROUGH “woman of straw” used her charm to defraud elderly and vulnerable men out of more than £33,000, a court heard.

Elizabeth Hanson, of Columbus Ravine, carried out the offences after her drug addiction and life spiralled out of control to a “terrifying level”.

Hanson, 37, was jailed for 18 months at York Crown Court having previously admitted four charges of fraud.

The court heard she had reverted back to her old ways, having recorded 40 previous convictions for 81 offences linked to dishonesty and drugs.

However, this time her addiction to crack cocaine and heroin developed into a £400 a day habit.

Shoplifting was not enough to keep her habit supplied, so Hanson, turned to giving elderly local residents sob stories and persuading them to lend her money.

Despite her claims to be in line for a substantial insurance settlement from her former partner’s estate, Hanson had no way of paying her victim’s back.

These victims included retired RAF officer Calvin Darby, 87, who lost £24,095, and George Brice, 67, who handed over £9,415.

The remaining two victims, described by Mr Mitcheson as also being vulnerable and elderly and one man suffering with mild learning difficulties, lost smaller amounts of £250 and £50.

Mr Mitcheson said that the offences came to light because of the small community nature of Whitby, Mr Darby’s bank becoming concerned that their normally frugal customer was making unusual withdrawals and notified the police.

Mitigating, Andrew Semple said that despite a history of drug abuse and committing crimes to pay for it, Hanson had a break from offending for three years.

Adding that this was mainly down to the influence of her former partner, Mr Semple said that following the partner’s untimely death from pneumonia in June, last year, his client’s life had “spiralled out of control to terrifying levels”.

Adding that she had got herself into another relationship, but this time an abusive one, Mr Semple said that Hanson was now determined to end this and, with the help of the prison services, straighten her life out again.

Passing sentence, Recorder Carn QC said Hanson had used her “charm and personality” to obtain the monies from her vulnerable victims

He gave Hanson credit for her early guilty pleas, her efforts on remand and an “exceptional” pre-sentence report,

He told Hanson this meant because of the time spent on remand and an automatic halving of the sentence, she would be released before the end of the year.