Two men jailed for burglary and fraud - St Albans


Two cousins, who tricked an 84-year-old St Albans widow out of sentimentally priceless jewellery, were jailed for a total of 11 years 8 months today, Friday, 02 December 2016. Manpreet Seth, aged 28, was sentenced to 6 years 2 months imprisonment and Rohit Chawla, aged 25, was sentenced to 5 years 6 months imprisonment.

Seth had befriended the elderly woman and twice burgled her home, once with Chawla. They also used her bank details to clear out her account.

St Albans Crown Court heard that in June last year the woman, who lives independently despite having cancer, limited mobility and difficulty hearing, was visited by Seth who said he was interested in buying an old Daimler that was parked on her drive. Seth "groomed" the elderly woman, who was charmed by his repeated visits to her home over a period of a week to ten days.

On one occasion, he stole £200 and then, when a British Gas workman was in her house, he suggested that he kept an eye on him while he worked upstairs. With his cousin, Chawla, keeping watch, and the victim downstairs, Seth stole 10 rings from an ornamental shoe in the woman's bedroom. The jewellery had been given to her by her late husband.

Seth and Chawla also obtained the widow's bank card details and used them to make £3,784 of purchases. That money was refunded by the bank.

In a victim personal statement, the victim said she had lost her confidence. She said the rings, worth £14,200, had been bought by her late husband and were of "enormous sentimental value."

After his arrest, Chawla's phone was examined, which led officers to discover that he used other stolen bank cards to buy £11,374 of goods between April 2014 and June 2015.

Seth, of Griffin Way, Kempston, was convicted on 01 December 2016, after a 2-week trial, of two counts of burglary and ten of fraud.

Chawla, of Compass Building, Station Approach, Hayes, was convicted on 01 December 2016, after the same trial, of burglary and four counts of fraud. He admitted seven other counts of fraud.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said the elderly woman had been "deliberately targeted" and that both men were "pathologically dishonest." He told Seth: "When she opened the door, you sized her up as a victim - someone who could be fleeced. You were charming and engaged her in conversation, giving her time and company and gaining her trust."

A proceeds of crime hearing against the two men will be held next year.

Another man, Abul Quereshi, was convicted on 01 December 2016, after the same trial of two counts of fraud and was sentenced the same day to a £500 fine.

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