A man who targeted a vulnerable, elderly man in Kingsbury and attempted to steal cash from him has been jailed.
John Payne, 48, was apprehended by concerned neighbours who had been alerted to his plans – they apprehended Payne as he arrived to collect cash and called the police who raced to the scene and arrested him.
A group, including Payne, targeted an 89-year-old man who lived alone in Kingsbury in June 2020. The contact started with a bombardment of fraudulent calls claiming to be the police informing the victim he was in possession of counterfeit money. The caller asked the elderly man to empty the contents of his safe into a plastic bag outside his address and an undercover officer would come and collect it.
However, a carer for the victim became aware of the calls and alerted neighbours. They arranged with the victim to leave out a bag filled with tea-towels and lay in wait for the conman to arrive.
On 21 June 2020, Payne attended the location, completely unaware he had been set up. A group of neighbours apprehended him and called the police – officers arrived and Payne was arrested.
A complex investigation was undertaken to identify others who worked with Payne to target the vulnerable man; while two other men were arrested they were subsequently released with no further action.
Payne was charged with conspiracy to steal. He was found guilty following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court and was jailed for three years following a hearing at the same venue on Thursday, 13 July. The actions of neighbours were highly commended by the Judge who ordered the court to issue a reward for their actions.
Detective Constable Sonia Darrington, who led the investigation, said: “John Payne thought nothing of swindling a vulnerable, elderly man and trying to steal his life savings.
“The action taken by concerned neighbours, in this case, has been truly inspirational. They have rallied around a vulnerable member of their community and put themselves in harm’s way to protect someone who could not protect himself. Together they apprehended Payne and prevented any money from being stolen.
“They have also supported the police investigation and provided a voice to the victim through court proceedings. The Judge commended their actions and so do I. It feels only right that they have received recognition for intervening and stopping a serious offence from occurring.”
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