A CHATLINE addict has been jailed after cleaning out his sick grandmother’s accounts and leaving his employer on the brink of going under with the loss of a £250,000 contract.
Repeat offender Anthony Brumwell spent £15,000 of Iris Brumwell’s savings, increased her overdraft to £2,000 and attempted to withdraw a further £6,000 as he scrabbled for huge sums of cash.
The 74-year-old, who suffers from a host of health problems, was left at risk of losing her rented bungalow with £900 of rent arrears, while bills went unpaid and her life insurance was cancelled because her accounts were dry.
Her 31-year-old grandson made up a fake letter from his employer Start Energy claiming she had been given a stake in the firm as he embezzled her funds.
While on police bail for that fraud and theft, the account manager set up a £10,400 deal through the Peterlee-based firm for an electricity meter for Wika Instruments, but put his own bank details in on invoices.
Boss Gary Robson has said the con meant Wika ditched its £250,000 contract, left his firm’s reputation damaged and was forced to let four workers go to keep the company going.
I think Anthony is sick. He’s not just my grandson, but a big part of my life.Iris Brumwell, whose grandson defrauded her of thousands
When confronted, the dad said he spent the cash on his debts, but it was never paid to his creditors and is said to have gone on rent and bills.
Durham Crown Court heard he first got into financial trouble when he started to use chatlines as a teenager, with payday loans taken out as he tried to access more cash and juggled the cost of living.
His pregnant wife of three years could now lose their rented flat.
Judge Simon Hickey jailed Brumwell, of East Street, Blackhall Colliery, for three years and two months after he pleaded guilty to fraud against his gran, attempted theft and fraud against Start Energy.
The scam against Mrs Brumwell came to light after a £5,000 loan application was sent to his father Ian, but with his son’s number on it.
With his family suspicious after a history of using his family’s details and previous convictions for theft, Ian’s wife Angela checked her mother-in-law’s finances.
When the extent of her grandson’s actions became known she told Mrs Brumwell: “He’s cleaned me out again.”
Her statement to the court said: “This has broken my heart.
“I think Anthony is sick. He’s not just my grandson, but a big part of my life.
“If he’d asked me for some money, I would have given him some in reason.”
Judge Hickey turned down a restraining order application against his gran, dad and stepmother - they have said they no longer want any contact with him.
Shaun Dryden, mitigating, said: “He has been spending £1,000 a month to these chatlines.
“This is on top of bills, rent etc and there is a point where he could not fund what he was spending.”
He added Brumwell, who gained another job after the fraud against Start Energy, also pays child support to a 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.