Fraudster couple jailed after stealing £16,000 from vulnerable man

A criminal couple who went on the run after stealing £16,000 from a vulnerable and ‘frail’ man have been jailed.

Emma Durkin, 31, was hired to do shopping, cleaning and pay rent for the victim, in Coundon, County Durham, a housebound man who required help after being discharged from hospital.

The victim required help following a fall that left him mobility issues, but Durkin, along with her partner Adam Waugh, 40, took advantage of his vulnerability.

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The pair, of Collingwood Street, Coundon, quickly began using the victim’s bank card for transactions of their own, withdrawing cash and paying for hotel rooms.

Durkin would even go to the bank with the victim to make him withdraw hundreds of pounds, telling him it was for his rent, then spending it on herself.

Bank staff became suspicious when they noticed £10,000 had been withdrawn over just a few months and notified the victim who confirmed the fraud.

Emma Durkin, 31, pictured, was hired to do shopping, cleaning and pay rent for the housebound victim, in Coundon, County Durham, but instead she and her partner withdrew cash using his Halifax and NatWest cards for their own benefit

The couple initially denied conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, between January 1 and April 28, 2020, when they appeared in court in March.

Durkin also denied a second charge of theft of £100.

However, she changed her pleas to guilty on the day of her trial for the fraud count in August.

Waugh, 40, denied the charges but was convicted by a jury in his absence at trial.

The pair went on the run for four months, from August until December, but after information from the public, were traced, arrested and put before Durham Crown Court on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Ian West said Adam Waugh, 40, pictured, rang police to taunt them by saying he would hand himself in while he and Durkin were on the run – but never did

Prosecutor Ian West said Waugh rang police to taunt them by saying he would hand himself in – but never did.

Durkin was sentenced to a total of 37 months in prison and handed an extra four weeks for breaking her bail condition.

Waugh was handed a 42-month sentence with an extra six weeks for breaking his bail conditions.

Mr West said the victim’s landlord introduced him to Durkin.

Waugh also knew the vulnerable victim after doing some handyman work for the landlord previously.

Mr West said the pair went on a ‘spending spree’ over the period of four months, clocking up just over £16,000 on the victim’s card Halifax and NatWest bank cards, leaving him ‘destitute’.

The court heard the pair had ‘little to show for it’ though.

Durkin and Waugh reserved a room at the Greenbank Hotel in Darlington, County Durham, using the victim’s card and name to make the booking.

But while they were out, staff at the Greenbank Hotel found the room ‘full of drug paraphernalia’.

Durkin has had two previous convictions for three offences, which includes counts of shoplifting and fraud in 2011.

Waugh has had a staggering 44 previous convictions for 86 offences in the past.

Defending Durkin, Mark Styles told the court she was a ‘vulnerable individual’ who struggled with a ‘serious heroin addiction’.

 The pair went on the run for four months, from August until December, but after information from the public, were traced, arrested and put before Durham Crown Court (pictured) on Wednesday

Defending Waugh, Jamie Adams said the 40-year-old wants to ‘say sorry for what he did’ and was ‘very much in the grip of a heroin addiction’ when defrauding the wheelchair-bound victim.

Judge James Adkin, who sentenced the pair, said the couple exploited the victim’s trust and vulnerability to help ‘fund drug addiction’.

The victim passed away in May this year, but the money taken by Durkin and Waugh was repaid by the banks.

Durkin was jailed for 37 months, with an extra four weeks added for remaining at large.

Waugh was jailed for 42 months, with an extra six weeks added for remaining at large.

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