Con women posed as police officers to steal from vulnerable man in Sunderland

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A PAIR of con artists who tricked their way into a vulnerable man’s home by pretending to be police officers, have been jailed.

Partners Catherine Lenaghan and Hayley Falconer worked together to burgle the home of a 62-year-old man who has suffered from brittle bones, strokes and heart attacks.

On April 28, Lenaghan, 28, arrived at the man’s ground floor flat and claimed to be a police officer.

She was with her girlfriend, 35-year-old Falconer, who called herself Katie, and said they had found a television which had been stolen from the man earlier this year.

They said that they wanted the box that the television had come in to confirm it was his.

Once inside the house, they stole the victim’s wallet containing around £80 as well as about £30 from elsewhere in the house, and some of his aftershave.

When they were arrested, both women denied the crime but have now pleaded guilty to burglary when they appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

Judge Brian Forster jailed Falconer for 40 months and Lenaghan for 24.

He said: “You two identified him as a vulnerable person, this wasn’t a spur-of- the-moment crime.

“You were invited in, albeit under false pretences. This was essentially a distraction-type burglary.

“This was an invasion of his privacy and his trust.”

The court heard that at the time of the offence, their victim was very unwell and relied on the help of carers, nurses and family members to get by.

He was being visited by carers four times a day and was sleeping on the sofa in the living room as he found it difficult to get around the house.

Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, said that the man had had problems with the pair in the past. Falconer of Bramwell Road, Sunderland, has 13 previous convictions for offences, including shoplifting, theft and burglary.

Lenaghan, of Grindon Lane Sunderland has 20 convictions for 46 offences, but none for burglary.

Glenn Gatland, defending Falconer, said: “She has a very long-standing issue with drugs, including a heroin addiction, which she has since got under control.”

Mr Gatland told the court that Falconer’s father had died just days before she committed the burglary.

He also said that she had taken all her prescribed medication, including anxiety medication and sleeping tablets, before going to his home.

Bob Spragg, defending Lenaghan, said: “She accepts full responsibility for the offence and describes her behaviour as disgusting.

“She has never committed a burglary before.

“She has shown proper remorse for her offending.”