A thief who preyed upon a vulnerable 83-year-old man has been jailed for 12 months.
James Hume carried out gardening work for his victim, who Perth Sheriff Court heard suffers from arthritis and rarely leaves his home.
The work proved a pretext as the 25-year-old then used their previous relationship to steal his bank cards.
Hume arrived at the man’s home in Perth with an unidentified partner on June 17 making the spurious claim that he was there to discuss further gardening work.
Instead, his friend distracted the pensioner by asking to use the toilet, while Hume searched his wallet and removed two bank cards.
He then rushed to the Morrisons supermarket in the city’s Caledonian Road where he made a few exploratory purchases using the card’s chip to make contactless payments.
Each time he carefully selected goods just below the £30 threshold that would have required him to enter a pin.
His shopping spree amounted to groceries worth £81.91.
The court was told it was two days before the elderly man became aware the cards were missing.
“He knew that no-one other than the accused and his friend had been in the house since he had last seen the cards,” depute fiscal Carol Whyte said.
“He contacted his bank and the police and after reviewing his account details officers discovered a number of transactions made by Hume.
“They were all contactless payments, so no pin number was required.
“The officers obtained CCTV from Morrisons and were able to identify the accused from the footage.
“He was apprehended a short time later.”
Hume, of Nimmo Avenue in Perth, admitted that, while acting with another person, he stole a card wallet containing two bank cards from a house in Perth on July 17,
He also admitted three further charges relating to obtaining goods from Morrisons on the same day by fraud.
Solicitor Pauline Cullerton asked the court to consider a non-custodial sentence but accepted that her client’s circumstances were not in his favour.
“He has a substantial record and analogous previous convictions,” she said. “Given the age and vulnerability of the complainer it is clearly a serious offence.”
As he jailed Hume, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said simply “This had been planned. You duped an 83-year-old man.”