'Not a shred of mercy': Pair foiled by Barclays bank staff in Leeds as they tried to fleece dementia sufferer of his savings

Lucia Bihariova was jailed for three years
Lucia Bihariova was jailed for three years
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Two heartless criminals preyed on an elderly dementia suffer and took him to banks in Leeds in a bid to "bleed his account dry."

Stefan Kotlar and Lucia Bihariova threatened the vulnerable 78-year-old victim and took him to Barclays banks in the city to withdraw large sums of cash.

Stefan Kotlar was jailed for two and a half years

Stefan Kotlar was jailed for two and a half years

A judge told the pair they had had shown "not a shred of mercy" over the distress they had caused him.

Kotlar and Bihariova were foiled by vigilant bank staff each time they tried to get him to withdraw cash.

Leeds Crown Court heard the victim lives alone in Harehills and had been diagnosed with dementia.

Staff at the Barclays branch on Albion Street in Leeds city centre became suspicious when Kotlar and Bihariova went into the premises with the pensioner on August 9 last year.

Barclays Bank, Albion Street

Barclays Bank, Albion Street

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The victim asked to withdraw £1,500 but told a staff member that the defendants had turned up at his house demanding money.

Police were contacted and Bihariova ran off.

A week later, on August 16, they went into the Barclays branch on Headrow.

Barclays Bank, Headrow

Barclays Bank, Headrow

Bihariova spoke for the victim and asked to withdraw £400. She also tried to order a new debit card and PIN number.

The elderly man told staff that the woman had turned up at his house with two men in a taxi before taking him to the bank.

Police were called and Bihariova fled when she heard the sound of sirens.

Later the same day the victim was taken to a Barclays branch in Bradford.

Kotlar and Bihariova waited outside while the man went inside and asked to withdraw £300.

He appeared distressed and told staff that he had been threatened by a man and a woman who had picked him up in a car.

Police were contacted and CCTV footage was obtained of the defendants waiting outside the bank.

Kotlar and Bihariova were arrested three months later after the victim's neighbour spotted them going inside his house and contacted the police.

Officers arrived to find them both still in the property.

Kotlar, of Florence Street, Harehills, claimed he had done some cleaning work and fitted lights in the victim's home.

He denied trying to obtain the sum of £1,500. He later pleaded guilty to three offences of attempted theft.

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He was jailed for two and a half years.

Kotlar has previous convictions for theft and assault.

Bihariova denied any wrongdoing but was found guilty of three offences of attempted theft after a trial.

She was jailed for three years. The court heard she has previous convictions for theft, assault and causing unnecessary suffering to a child.

Both defendants are originally from the Czech Republic.

Michael Greenhalgh, for Kotlar, said he had been struggling to cope in custody since his arrest.

Mr Greenhalgh said Kotlar needed a kidney transplant which was not possible while he was in custody.

He is currently receiving dialysis treatment while serving his sentence.

Becky Jane, for Bihariova, said her client was married and once had a pet shop business with her husband.

She had previously been a beauty therapist.

Ms Jane added that Bihariova was currently suffering from a number of mental health issues.

Jailing the pair, Judge Robin Mairs said: "You repeatedly targeted a frail and vulnerable man without a shred of mercy.

"Requests were made for a debit card and PIN number.

"I am quite satisfied it would have been used by you two to bleed his account dry.

"This was a determined and persistent attempt to steal from a very vulnerable, and evidently vulnerable, victim."