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Hadleigh man jailed after defrauding vulnerable 50-year-old out of more than £26,000

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Ipswich Crown Court. (7495010)
Ipswich Crown Court. (7495010)

A Hadleigh man, who defrauded a vulnerable man out of more than £26,000 over a three-year period, has been jailed.

Stuart Snowling, 22, of Ansell Close, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday, when he received a two-year jail sentence, one year of which will be served in custody, with the rest on parole.

He admitted stealing thousands of pounds from a 50-year-old man, whom he befriended by helping him with his Xbox video game system and regularly communicated with via the console’s online messenger service.

Between January 2015 and January 2018, Snowling convinced the victim to give him large quantities of money, under the false pretence that the Xbox console would go offline if he did not pay him.

Snowling also used the victim’s debit card to purchase various items, including shoes, aftershave and clothing, and he sold the victim numerous second-hand Xbox games and DVDs at hugely inflated costs, knowing the victim did not understand their value.

The victim, who is also from Hadleigh, made hundreds of cash withdrawals from his account during this time, leaving him without food or toiletries.

The thefts were discovered when a support worker took a phone call from a man asking the victim for money, which led to a police investigation, from which Snowling was subsequently reported for fraud.

Following the sentencing, investigating officer PC Diane Porter said: “The victim was a vulnerable man with health problems, and Snowling exploited the situation to his advantage by stealing money from him.

“Although the victim led an independent lifestyle, the Xbox was the victim’s only form of entertainment, so he had become reliant on the console to keep him occupied.

“Snowling’s action left the victim with no money to buy food, which prompted him to lose a considerable amount of weight; he didn’t even have a teabag in his house, his cupboards were so bare.

“It is very gratifying to see Snowling convicted and the sentence handed to him will give him plenty of opportunity to reflect on how his cruel and selfish actions bought a huge misery and distress to the victim.

“In my 26 years as a police officer with Suffolk Constabulary, this has been one of the saddest cases of fraud I have ever had to deal with.

“I am so pleased that, together with social services, we have been able to support our victim, and his life is so much better than prior to this fraud.”