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‘Off his nut’ conman swindled cash from neighbours after claiming wife and daughter had medical emergencies

A conman “off his nut” swindled cash from unsuspecting neighbours by claiming his wife and daughter had suffered medical emergencies.

By Gareth Crickmer
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 5:23 pm

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Christopher James, 29, knocked randomly on doors in Hetton and asked residents for money to pay for taxis to get him quickly to hospital.

During two false sob story scams, James, of Alder Close, Hetton, said his 15-month-old daughter had been rushed for treatment, a court heard.

And in a third, he alleged his spouse had gone into premature labour – and he committed 11 other similar offences for which he was not charged.

South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

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His admitted crimes, on Monday, March 14, Thursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19, left his victims worried he would return.

James, who pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud by false representation, was handed a 12-month community order.

Prosecutor Bushra Begum told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: “At 10.25pm on March 14, the victim states there was a knock at the door.

“When opened, there was an unknown male who they had never before encountered.

“He explained that he lived nearby. They were concerned by his demeanour because he couldn’t stand still.

“He said he needed £12 to get to Sunderland hospital, due to his partner going into premature labour.

“He said someone else had given him £5 and he needed another £12 for a taxi.

“He said he would return the next day at 9am with the money because he would get it from his boss. They gave him £20 to cover the cost of the taxi fare.”

Of James’ second offence, Mrs Begum added: “At 9pm, again there was a knock on a door. He spoke to the occupant who he didn’t know.

“He said his daughter had been taken into hospital and he needed money for a taxi. His second victim gave him £20.

“He again said he would return the next day with money, which he would get from his boss.

“On March 19, at just before 7pm, he again attended a property and knocked on the door.

“He said his 15-month-old daughter had been rushed into hospital, and he needed money for a taxi.

“The occupant went through her purse and found £20. He remarked it was not enough.

“Due to his demeanour, she went through her coin jar and gave him a further £22.

“He has entered the property. He then called her by her first name, which made her think he had read her mail.”

The court heard James’ crimes came to light when a victim highlighted it on Facebook and others came forward.

James asked the court for 11 other same fraud offences for which he was not charged to be taken into consideration.

Peter Farrier, defending, said: “He’s been under the influence on each occasion. He’s been off his nut, basically.

“He had a bad habit at the time which caused him to do bad things. He’s come to court and he’s not under the influence. He accepts he’s done wrong.”

James’ community order carries 20 rehabilitation days, and he must compensate his victims to a total of £122.

There were no court costs.