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Man jailed for stealing pensioner's life savings

A man who gambled away a pensioner’s life-savings and used the money to treat his partner to expensive jewellery and a lavish holiday has been jailed.

Michael Wood (28/04/1967) and his partner Nicola Johnson (11/11/1965) both of Shelfield Lane, Norden, were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court today (Friday 30 November 2018) after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.

Wood was sentenced to four years and six months for fraud by false representation and Johnson was sentenced to eight months which will be suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service for money laundering.

Wood moved to the Rochdale area in 2013 where he befriended his victim – a man in his 70s – convincing him that he was a trusted friend.

Soon after befriending him, Wood offered to carry out building work on his house but this was merely a ruse to get the pensioner to part with his life savings.

Wood maintained that he was project-managing the renovation works and required access to the victim’s bank account in order to finance the work.

Between June 2013 and December 2016, nearly £325,000 was transferred into Michael Wood’s bank accounts. However, the building work carried out on the victim’s house was minimal.

When the life-savings were gone, Wood persuaded the man to take out numerous personal loans and credit cards, and an equity loan on his house.

He convinced him that the money would be invested in building work and the purchase of a holiday home. In reality, Wood was using the money primarily to fund his own online gambling habit.

Over the three-year period, Wood – who was unemployed for the most part – gambled in excess of £830,000 with online bookmakers and casinos. This figure includes winnings that were re-gambled.

Wood’s spending was not limited to gambling. He also used his victim’s credit cards to purchase luxury holidays and an engagement ring for this partner Nicola Johnson, who also received funds from the victim’s bank accounts to a sum of £7,562.

Detective Constable Andy Devonshire of GMP’s Specialist Fraud Investigating Unit said: “This man worked hard throughout his life to set himself up for retirement, but Wood has completely taken away any possibility of him being able to enjoy a comfortable future.

“It is despicable that Wood has taken advantage of him in this way to fund his own gambling habits and to purchase luxury items.

“We welcome the sentence today and I hope it shows that offenders who commit crimes like this will be caught and made to face the consequences of their actions.”

© Greater Manchester Police 2019