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Rogue builder fleeced £6,000 out of terminally ill woman

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The victim of a fraudster who was conned out of £6,000 worth of building works he never started, died before he could be brought to justice.

But the woman’s family was in court to see Reece Murphy, 31, who took the cash from the terminally ill woman as a “deposit” jailed.

Murphy met the victim, who was in her 80s and lived in Ickleton, South Cambridgeshire, when he responded to an advert, she posted on a local trade site in August 2020.

She advertised a job to install a downstairs toilet as she was struggling to use the stairs.

She already had plans drawn up for the works when Murphy approached her, and he claimed to be able to do the job quickly.

The victim gave Murphy £4,000 in cash he requested for materials and a further £2,325 via bank transfer – a total of £6,325.

Murphy claimed he would be back a couple of days later to complete the works, but he never turned up.

The victim called him and tried to make contact through the trade site but was unsuccessful.

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She reported the incident to police who tracked Murphy down and arrested him.

Murphy, of Palmer Avenue, Bushey, Hertfordshire, eventually pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and was sentenced to six months in prison at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on November 1.

He was also ordered to pay back the money to the victim’s family.

PC Charlotte Anderson-Chapman, who investigated, said: “Sadly, the victim passed away before Murphy got his day in court, but her family are pleased justice has been done.

“This was a truly heartless and despicable crime. Murphy deliberately targeted and took money from a vulnerable and terminally ill woman for vital works she needed to help her cope with her illness.

“He caused her terrible stress in the final months of her life and left her unable to get the works completed.

“I am glad justice has been done today and I hope this goes to show how seriously we take all incidents of fraud.

“We will work tirelessly to bring those responsible before the courts.” For more on fraud, visit the force website

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