A heroin addict preyed on elderly people in a doorstep con to get small amounts of money to buy drugs, Worcester Crown Court was told.

Shane Hodgkiss knocked on doors in Droitwich and tricked pensioners by telling them sob stories.

He told an 80-year-old woman he needed cash to get to hospital in Worcester to see his wife who was in labour, said Alexander Barnfield, prosecuting.

He claimed to an 86-year-old woman that his bike had broken down and to a 64-year-old man that he needed petrol to get home.

Four householders were identified by police but Hodgkiss had approached other vulnerable people in the area, said Mr Barnfield.

The defendant had a lengthy record for dishonesty and was under a suspended 52-week sentence for burglary.

Jailing him for 12 months, Judge John Cavell said 30-year-old Hodgkiss, of Mayflower Road, Droitwich, had breached seven court orders in the past and must learn that custody was the only consequence of such actions.

“You targeted elderly people in their homes,” he said. “They were only small sums of money but the effect can be out of proportion to the money obtained.”

One pensioner said in a victim impact statement that she was now aware of her vulnerability and was nervous of opening the door to anyone she didn’t know.

Hodgkiss, who pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud, began his crime spree on August 5 when he targeted the 80-year-old. She refused to hand over cash and shut the door on him.

Within a week he had conned £3.40 out of the 86-year-old but returned to her home and was given another £10. She told police she thought he was plausible and as a Christian had a duty to help him.

Hodgkiss said he would come back and refund the cash but broke his promise.

The 64-year-old became suspicious when asked for £3 petrol money and sent Hodgkiss on his way empty-handed.

Jason Patel, defending, said these were “acts of desperation” after his source of methadone – the heroin substitute – dried up when his supplier was jailed.

Hodgkiss had been a heroin addict since the age of 18 but was supported by his 71-year-old mother, who was in the court’s public gallery.

Mr Patel said he had made progress in giving up the drug at one stage but went back to heroin after his sister died from cancer at the age of 43.