Dying pensioner conned out of £11,000

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The Independent Online

A terminally ill 85-year-old handed more than £11,000 to conmen who claimed that his roof needed urgent repairs, police said today.

West Midlands Police described the offence committed against John Wotherspoon, who was taken to three separate banks to withdraw the cash, as despicable.

Mr Wotherspoon, of Wildfell Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, was targeted on Wednesday by three men who called at his home at about 11am.

The victim, who has prostate cancer and is said to be in a confused state, answered the door and was told by a man that his roof needed urgent repair.

The offender then showed him a rotten piece of wood and he stepped out of his home to see two other men tearing guttering off his roof.

All three men told the dying pensioner that they needed money urgently for the repairs and he fetched his bank book and got into the back of a white van with the offenders.

He was then driven to banks in Acocks Green and Kings Heath before staff at a bank in Yardley contacted the police.

PC Steve Pope, from Billesley police station, said: "John is suffering from prostate cancer which has spread to his chest.

"His family inform us his cancer is terminal and his health has deteriorated rapidly. He has already exceeded doctors' expectations.

"His family believe this is why John was targeted. This was a despicable crime, taking advantage of an elderly man who is vulnerable and extremely ill.

The main offender is described as a white Irish male aged about 60, of large build and of a scruffy appearance.

The other two men are described as white and aged in their early 30s.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or anyone with information, should contact officers at Billesley police station on 0845 113 5000.