Tayside and Central Scotland

Dundee man jailed for stealing £16,000 from vulnerable man

A man has been jailed for six months after stealing more than £16,000 from a "vulnerable" Dundee pensioner.

Allan Lawson, 39, repeatedly took money from Benno Wolecki's bank account between March 2016 and May 2017.

Mr Wolecki died at the age of 67, a few months after the fraud ended.

At the trial, Lawson claimed the money was only being transferred from Mr Wolecki's accounts into his so he could help him pay his bills and get cash from the bank.

Lawson was given the jail term at Dundee Sheriff Court having previously been found guilty of the offence.

The court heard how he repeatedly transferred large sums of money into his own account before withdrawing the money near his home in Dundee.

'Father figure'

Fiscal depute Joanne Smith pointed to evidence of the TSB website being accessed on Lawson's phone around the time transfers were made.

She said: "He disputed being in financial difficulties despite being significantly overdrawn and having to take crisis loans from the DWP.

"That is simply not credible or reliable."

Lawson was a regular visitor to Mr Wolecki's home in a sheltered housing complex on the edge of Dundee city centre.

These visits stopped shortly after online access was blocked to Mr Wolecki's bank accounts.

Miss Smith said Lawson saw Mr Wolecki as a father figure.

She added: "He wasn't concerned enough to speak to the warden of the sheltered housing complex to find out where Mr Wolecki was after he'd gone into hospital.

"He knew he could no longer access the accounts - the money from that source had dried up."

Lawson claimed Mr Wolecki had asked him to help pay his bills and assist getting cash from the bank.

He also claimed that Mr Wolecki repeatedly fell victim to "gambling scam letters" and was putting cash he had taken out towards those.

'Appropriate sentence'

Lawson said he was being loaned the money and paid Mr Wolecki back every month. The first transfer was for £3,500.

The court heard that Mr Wolecki was undergoing tests at a hospital memory clinic because he was "getting more forgetful".

Lawson claimed he had been paying it back by standing order at £60 a month - and had paid it off within a year.

But bank records showed only a single payment going back to Mr Wolecki.

Lawson's lawyer, Ian Houston, said: "Suspicious though some of the accused's actions may have been, we are lacking cohesive evidence in this case."

Lawson, initially denied a charge of fraud alleged to have been committed between July 15 2014 and May 8 2017.

After a three-day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court he was convicted of the theft of a total of £16,259.21 between March 2016 and May 2017.

Jailing Lawson, Sheriff John Rafferty said: "In the circumstances the only appropriate sentence is a jail sentence.

"It's necessary to punish you and to deter others from taking advantage of vulnerable, aged and sick people."

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