Cheat ordered to pay back widow

Pictured is Andrew Harding
Pictured is Andrew Harding

A 72-YEAR-OLD widow who was conned out of thousands of pounds by cheating Andrew Harding is to get back more than £4,000 is compensation.

Harding, 28, was jailed for two years in December for tricking vulnerable pensioner Brenda Nicholls out of at least £7,000 after he claimed he was going to marry her.

A judge has ruled Harding, of Poplar View, Lightcliffe, hand over £4,618.90 from his bank accounts under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the money will be paid over to Calderdale Social Services who look after Mrs Nicholls’ finances.

Over a three year period Harding repeatedly took Mrs Nicholls’ weekly allowance from her and claimed that some of the cash was being put aside for their wedding fund.

The widow who lived in sheltered accommodation made regular bus trips to meet up with Harding but their relationship came to light after her support worker noticed a deterioration in Mrs Nicholls’ appearance and living standards.

Bradford Crown Court heard during Harding’s trial that Mrs Nicholls suffered from a mild learning disability and her level of understanding was below that of a ten-year-old.

He was found guilty of deception and obtaining criminal property. When sentencing Harding Judge Alistair McCallum said the deception itself was especially cruel.

Harding, who is currently serving two years in prison, appeared in the dock alongside his father John, 57.

John Harding, of Whitegate Road, Siddal, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing criminal property. He admitted having possession of £15,000 of illegitimate benefits acquired between April 2003 and April 2009.

Judge Peter Benson was told that John Harding’s offence came to light during the financial inquiry into his son’s activities with Mrs Nicholls.

John Harding was sentenced to a 12 month community order with supervision for a year. He will also have to pay costs of £1,100 and a fine of £900 plus a victim surcharge of £15.

Judge Benson, who made the confiscation order against Andrew Harding, made a similar order in the sum of £15,000 against his father.