Pensioner duped by promises of marriage

A swindler who conned thousands of pounds from a vulnerable pensioner after saying he would marry her has been jailed for two years.

Over a three-year period, 28 years old Andrew Harding repeatedly took 72-year-old Brendan Nicholls' weekly allowance from her and claimed that some of the cash was being put aside for their 'wedding fund'.

The Hebden Bridge widow, who was under the care of Calderdale Social Services and lived in sheltered accommodation, made regular bus trips to meet Harding, but their relationship came light after her support worker noticed a deterioration in Mrs Nicholls' appearance and living standards.

During a trial it was suggested that Harding of Lightcliffe may have obtained up 15,000 from the pensioner by deception, but that figure was disputed by his barrister and Judge Alistair McCallum estimated the cash taken amounted to about 7,000.

Judge McCallum told Harding: "The deception itself was especially cruel. You raised her hopes of romance in her twilight years."

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