Female con artist jailed - Luton

01/09/2014

A woman con artist, who tricked her way into an 83-year-old Luton man's home and tried to steal his wallet, was jailed for 3 and a half years today, Monday, 01 September 2014.

Mary Benstead, aged 42, got into the house in Highbury Road claiming she was a carer, but he became suspicious after she asked him when he last had sex.

Prosecutor Michael Attenborough said he asked her to leave. As she went she cuddled him and tried to reach for his wallet from his trouser pocket. The elderly man called the police and were able to trace Benstead from the DNA she had left on a mug when he had made her a cup of tea.

Benstead, of Milliners Court, Luton, pleaded guilty to burgling the man on 08 April this year. She had denied the charge, but changed her plea on the day of trial after the elderly man had arrived at court to give evidence. She had 28 convictions for 48 offences. In 2010 she was sentenced for four house break-ins and in 2012 she was sentenced for three more dwelling house burglaries.

Stephen Moore, defending, said Benstead had "on-going drug problems" since she was a teenager. Since being remanded in custody he said she had tested negative for drugs.

Judge Michael Kay QC told her: "This was a despicable offence. Elderly people living on their own should be entitled to live their lives without fear of people who trick their way into their homes and try to steal from them.  It is a particularly cruel offence. In normal society the elderly are respected, not preyed upon by people in order to steal."

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