A plumber given money to install a new bath at a pensioner’s home gambled the cash away.
Matthew Hutchinson took £660 from the 82-year-old man to do the work – and then failed to return the victim’s calls.
He was a vulnerable victim and there has been the loss of a valuable amenity to him
Hutchinson told police that when he saw the money in his account he could not resist due to his gambling addiction – and when he was gambling nothing else mattered, even his family.
The pensioner had still not been able to get a new bath because Hutchinson had not fully paid him back.
The 29-year-old plumber, of Heaton Road, St Annes, pleaded guilty to fraud.
He was sentenced to a 12-month community order with up to 20 days’ rehabilitation to be supervised by the Probation Service, ordered to do 80 hours’ unpaid work for the community and told to pay £450 compensation to the victim, £85 costs plus £60 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Presiding magistrate, Christine Greaves, told him: “He was a vulnerable victim and there has been the loss of a valuable amenity to him.”
Pam Smith, prosecuting, said the pensioner rang Hutchinson’s plumbing firm on October 10 and it was agreed the defendant would install a bath.
The pensioner put £660 in Hutchinson’s account. The plumber twice rang the pensioner saying he could not start the job as he was ill.
Hutchinson then said he could not do the work due to a build-up of jobs and that he would return the pensioner’s money. The money was not repaid and Age Concern contacted the police on the pensioner’s behalf. Hutchinson agreed to pay the money back, but he only returned £210.
The prosecutor said the pensioner had been unable to have the modifications done to his bathroom that he physically needed because Hutchinson had not given him back all his money.
Hutchinson, who had no previous convictions, had been gambling since he was 21. He told magistrates he could not control his addiction. He had gone for help to Gamblers Anonymous and his doctor, but nothing worked.
He said he loved his work but his gambling had had a knock-on effect on it.