HERE are five Worcestershire fraudsters who conned innocent people out of thousands of pounds - but avoided jail.

Worcester News: A ‘SELFISH’ woman was disowned by the family she ‘tore apart’ after she carried out credit card frauds against her own mum and daughter. Debt-ridden and shunned, Zoe Hayes sobbed in the dock as she was given a suspended jail sentenA ‘SELFISH’ woman was disowned by the family she ‘tore apart’ after she carried out credit card frauds against her own mum and daughter. Debt-ridden and shunned, Zoe Hayes sobbed in the dock as she was given a suspended jail senten

Zoe Hayes

A ‘SELFISH’ woman was disowned by the family she ‘tore apart’ after she carried out credit card frauds against her own mum and daughter.

Debt-ridden and shunned, Zoe Hayes sobbed in the dock as she was given a suspended jail sentence at Worcester Crown Court on October 16 last year.

The 47-year-old of Diglis Dock Road, Diglis, Worcester, took out two credit cards in her daughter’s name and went on shopping sprees, maxing them out after doing exactly the same thing to her own mother 10 years ago.

The defendant’s daughter, Sophie Hemmingway, said she would ‘never forgive’ her mother for what she had done and does not want her in her life, believing she will do the same thing again given the chance.

Mrs Hemmingway, 23, of Worcester, watched her mother spared jail from the public gallery.

“She has torn the family apart. None of the family are speaking to her,” said Mrs Hemmingway after the court hearing.

Mrs Hemmingway, who married last July, said: “She isn’t going to be part of my life and that’s it. I don’t feel anything towards her. I look at her as if she’s a stranger. She will continue to do this. I hope she never does it to my sisters. I would rather she had gone to prison.”

She said after she did not understand how her mother was still the treasurer of a charity.

Hayes is listed on a Facebook page for Worcester Community Trust as a member of the JOY Project and had recently volunteered at Latimer Court Care Home in Worcester ‘to help cheer up the residents in lockdown.’

The mother-of-four had already admitted two counts of fraud by false representation when she appeared for sentence. Details of the previous conviction against her mother in 2009 were not detailed in open court.

However, the defendant’s daughter, who is in touch with her grandmother, said they involved a sum of £10,000 which her nan had to pay off herself.

Amiee Parkes, prosecuting, said the defendant had been staying with her daughter in Manchester on December 21 and 22 last year and she planned to go shopping at the Trafford Centre with her sisters.

Miss Parkes said this ‘did not sit right’ with Mrs Hemmingway as she knew her mum did not have the money and had struggled with debt for a long time.

Checking her mother’s purse she found two credit cards in one of the pockets taken out in Mrs Hemmingway’s maiden name. She confronted her mother who was described as ‘placid about the situation’, telling her daughter ‘she would sort it out and didn’t want to talk about it’.

Mrs Hemmingway assumed her mother would pay them off but the cards continued to be used after she said she had cut them up.

“She said she was sorry for taking the cards out and knew she shouldn’t have done it but was in a bad mental state and that’s why she had done it,” said Miss Parkes.

Mrs Hemmingway’s credit score went down by 65 points as a result of her mum’s actions at a time when she was house hunting in Worcester. When her mum was further challenged she hung up the phone. Her daughter said: “I don’t think my mum will pay the money back. I’m concerned she will do something similar to my sisters.”

The defendant was arrested on May 17 at her home address and a search was conducted and both cards were found in her purse. The bill on one was £1,574 (Capital One card) and £1,277 on the other (Aqua Card) although the defendant had paid off £206 on that card.

The bank has met the cost so there is no loss to Mrs Hemmingway. The defendant made full and frank admissions in interview.

Michael Anning, defending, said: “She has understandably been disowned by all branches of her family. She did plead guilty at the first opportunity and made admissions in interview.”

Hayes had told the probation officer who prepared the pre-sentence report: “I’m really sorry. If I could turn back time I would.”

Mr Anning invited the judge to treat this remorse as ‘genuine’ and said his client was ‘in extreme financial hardship’ and was in substantial rent arrears.

Judge Jim Tindal said: “There’s something particularly painful about breaches of trust within the family. Everyone struggles financially from time to time but not everyone steals from their own in the way you have now done twice.”

Judge Tindal said that although Mrs Hemmingway had not suffered financial harm she had suffered damage to her credit rating ‘and, perhaps much more importantly, the damage to her trust’.

“It’s clear, as was the case with your offences against your mother, when you get yourself in financial difficulty you tend to think only of yourself and not of those around you” said the judge.

He told her, rather than asking her family or those around her for help, in her ‘desperation’ she took advantage of them. It was this breach of trust that he said meant the case crossed the custody threshold.

Judge Tindal told her as she cried in court: “You’re upset. Frankly I hope you’re upset through a sense of shame rather than through a sense of self pity.”

The judge sentenced her to nine months in prison suspended for two years and ordered her to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He also made a restraining order for 12 months which prohibits Hayes having any contact, directly or indirectly, with her daughter. “Your daughter does not want to talk to you. That may change in time. It may not” said the judge.

No order was made for costs or compensation.

After the hearing Mrs Hemmingway said: “I will never forgive her. They say she is remorseful but she was still trying to take money off me three months after her arrest.”

Worcester News: BENEFIT FRAUD: Karen Haycock and husband Michael Haycock fleeced the taxpayer out of over £30,000BENEFIT FRAUD: Karen Haycock and husband Michael Haycock fleeced the taxpayer out of over £30,000

Karen and Michael Haycock

MARRIED couple Michael and Karen Haycock, who committed benefit fraud to fleece the taxpayer out of over £30,000, had their jail sentences overturned on appeal.

The couple, who held hands as they learned their fate, fraudulently claimed more than £30,000 in Pension Credit and Council Tax benefit over eight years.

Michael Haycock, 74, and his wife Karen Haycock, 59, both of Drugger's End Lane, Castlemorton, near Malvern appealed against the sentence on the grounds that the custodial sentences imposed on February 20 last year were 'wrong in principle' and 'manifestly excessive'.

The appeal against the sentence was heard by Recorder Richard Atkins QC, sitting with two magistrates on March 27.

The court heard that the claims did not begin fraudulently but became so when the couple failed to notify both the Department for Work and Pensions and Malvern Hills District Council of changes in circumstances which affected their entitlement to those benefits.

The initial application for Pension Credit was lodged by Michael Haycock on November 16, 2008 on behalf of himself and his wife.

Worcester News: GUILTY: Michael HaycockGUILTY: Michael Haycock

Thomas Griffiths, prosecuting, said Karen Haycock later failed to notify the authorities that her daughter was living at home and working 16 hours per week.

He said Karen Haycock also worked for three separate organisations over a seven year period, working 40 hours per week between January 26, 2010 and April 26, 2013; working 35 hours per week between August 5, 2013 and August 30, 2013; and working 37 and a half hours per week between October 1, 2013 and December 16, 2016.

The total overpayments over this period were £25,392 in Pension Credit and £5,367 in Council Tax benefit (total £30,760). Of the cash they claimed fraudulently, £200 a week went directly to their building society to repay their mortgage while £17 per week went into the bank account.

Recorder Richard Atkins QC said: "They both forgot that somebody was paying the mortgage for them. What a lovely thing to be able to forget."

Glenn Cook, for the couple, said the fraud stemmed from a property venture that 'went wrong' and they found they were unable to sell property they had invested in.

"That caused real financial hardship and pressure upon the family" he said.

He said Mrs Haycock had opened a coffee shop in Worcester and it was at that time the claims were set up.

"He also said Karen Haycock had suffered a nervous breakdown and had been diagnosed with mental health difficulties.

"Michael Haycock had suffered a heart attack which had an impact on his earnings and required a stent.

Mr Cook said the couple had shown 'genuine remorse' and were at a low risk of reoffending.

The judge told them they were 'savvy enough to apply for whatever benefits are going' and said 'It's honest, law-abiding citizens who were paying for your dishonesty. You are now paying it back, albeit slowly.'

However, the panel allowed the appeal against the sentence. The couple were served instead with an 18 month community orders to include 150 hours of unpaid work.

Worcester News: GUILTY: Liam Pickering.GUILTY: Liam Pickering.

Liam Pickering

A SEA cadet leader stole close to £5,000 from the charity by fraudulently filling up his own car using a fuel card intended to pay for minibus trips for young people.

Liam Pickering admitted fraud by abuse of position when he appeared before Worcester Magistrates Court on December 5 2020.

The 40-year-old dad of Knights Hill, Severn Stoke, near Worcester was the chairman of Malvern Sea Cadets, dishonestly abusing his position to make a gain of £4,753 between June 15, 2018 and July 19 last year.

Shafquat Reaz, prosecuting, said Pickering had used the fuel card on 82 occasions before the fraud came to light during what he called 'a breach of trust' although he accepted that Pickering had paid some of the money back in the meantime.

The starting point within the sentencing guidelines indicated Pickering should receive a sentence of 36 weeks in prison as a starting point with a range available of a high level community order, at the bottom of the range, to a year in prison at the top.

Heath Thomas, defending, said: "He really wasn't dealing with money. The treasurer looked after that. He wasn't in control of the purse strings. One of his jobs was to sort out the fuel card for the minibus transporting the youths around."

He added: "It's not as if he set out with an intention to defraud the Malvern Sea Scouts of the sum of money."

Mr Thomas described the fraud as 'a very unsophisticated matter'. The card had a unique number and the defendant's name on it.

The Malvern Sea Cadets were paying the bill via a direct debit set up by the treasurer.

"It would not come to light until July 2019 when it was thought the fuel charges were a little higher than they might expect" he said.

Picketing has been paying the money back since December last year, so far returning £3,250 of the cash. He has also offered to pay any interest on top.

Mr Thomas also stressed that Pickering's role had been voluntary, not a paid position. The advocate argued that though the fraud had a detrimental impact on the charity it did not have 'a great consequence upon them', cadet leaders only becoming aware of it 12 months later. When they realised what Pickering had done, the committee members reported him to police.

The defendant had no previous relevant convictions and was a person of previous good character. Pickering also worked as a youth football coach and had himself been a Sea Cadet since the age of 17. Prior to these matters, his conduct was described by his advocate as 'exemplary' and 'laudable'.

The father-of-two, who had his first child when he was 15, is 'so embarrassed he can't bring himself to tell them" said Mr Thomas. He also said Pickering was 'grateful' he had been found out.

The chairman of the magistrates bench, Fiona Charny, said: "We accept it was unsophisticated but it was pretty unpleasant really and it was against a charity which we find very difficult."

Magistrates sentenced him to a 12 month community order. He must complete 160 hours of unpaid work and continue paying back the remaining £1,503 he still owes to the Malvern Sea Cadets. He must pay £185 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.

Worcester News: GUILTY: Ashley KeyteGUILTY: Ashley Keyte

Ashley Keyte

A MAN who headbutted a police officer after stealing a car and bank cards in Worcester avoided jail.

Ashley Keyte, 35 and of Queen’s Street, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker, fraud by false representation by using bank credit cards, the theft of bank cards and car keys and the taking of a vehicle without consent on November 2, 2020.

He was given an 18-month community order and ordered to pay £426 compensation to his victims.

Prosecutor May Li said Lucy Williams had taken her son to Perdiswell Leisure Centre where her property was stolen from a locker.

Her bag was found but not her purse containing bank cards and car keys and then Ms Williams discovered her Hyundai car had been stolen

While cancelling her bank cards she was told a transaction had just been made at the Bulls Head Inn, High Street, Inkberrow.

The court heard two men had ordered vodka drinks and a bottle of Champagne using her credit card, fleeing the scene when they saw the police arrive.

One of the men - the defendant Keyte - returned and was questioned by an officer and gave a false name.

When police challenged him, Keyte headbutted the officer and had to be restrained.

In a victim statement Ms Williams said: “I had to have the car valeted to get rid of the feel that somebody else had driven it.

“I have suffered financially as I have had to change the locks at my home and my place of work, and had new locks fitted to the car. I have also been inconvenienced through the loss of three bank cards and replacing other items contained in my purse.”

The prosecutor told the court that Keyte had also entered a number of supermarkets and stolen alcohol items on four occasions.

On September 3 at Asda, Bromsgrove, he stole bottles of vodka and Jack Daniels to the value of £162.50, and on September 26 at the Co-op store, Winchcombe, he stole four bottles of vodka and on a second occasion on the same day stole four further bottles of alcohol, value unknown. Keyte targeted the same store on October 14 and stole alcohol to the value of £77.98.

Caroline Williams, defending, said Keyte had received a number of custodial sentences in recent months.

“He is somebody who would benefit from formal help from the probation service and other agencies to prevent further offending,” she submitted.

“He left Worcester Magistrates Court before proceedings had been completed because he disagreed with the way a pre-sentence report was to be conducted. He felt he wanted to take part in a community-based penalty and he felt that everything was being rushed at that court.

“He lacks the ability to be able to solve problems in the correct manner and he takes matters into his own hands.”

Kathryn Bailey, chair of the magistrates, said to Keyte: “We’ve heard that you previously have had good compliance with probation and we are dealing with your sentence by means of an extended community order that lasts for 18 months and consists of 30 programme days, so that you can address some of your problems.”

The justices ordered that Keyte should pay £186 compensation to Ms Williams, £78 to Midcounties Co-op and £162 to Asda in Bromsgrove.

Worcester News: GUILTY: Joshua Philpott GUILTY: Joshua Philpott

Joshua Philpott

A THIEF who burgled two properties and used stolen bank cards narrowly escaped jail, with a judge telling him it was “his last chance”.

Joshua Philpott had previously admitted two counts of burglary, two counts of fraud by false representation and a single charge of theft from a dwelling when he appeared in court in November last year.

Lee Egan, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court said the burglaries had happened over two days, November 22 and 23.

Mr Egan said Philpott had broken into two properties at the YMCA in Henwick Road, where he lived.

He said that, in the first burglary, the 24-year-old stole two bikes, two televisions, aftershave and a wallet, and in the second he took a camera worth £350 and a passport.

Mr Egan said the victim of the second burglary, Theresa Vancouver, had told the police that the thought of someone being in her home was “really unnerving”, and she added that as the passport was not recovered, she would have to get a replacement.

The prosecutor said the bank card theft had happened when Philpott stole a wallet from Bradley Edmonds who was sleeping on the floor at a friend's property, after they all went out for a night out.

The cards were used to make two purchases in Sainsbury’s in Foregate Street, and were returned to the wallet before Mr Edmonds had noticed them missing.

But, Mr Egan said, the victim realised what had happened after he had texts on his phone about the purchases, and he noticed the bank cards were not in the usual order he had them in his wallet.

Mr Egan said Mr Edmonds also told police Philpott had tools that were used to carry out the burglaries, and he was offered the stolen items for sale, including the bikes.

“He declined (buying them),” Mr Egan said. "But he allowed him to use his phone, to sell the items on Facebook. Mr Edmonds showed police the adverts.”

Mr Egan added Philpott’s previous convictions included assault of an emergency worker and common assault.

Jason Aris, defending, said Philpott, who appeared via videolink from HMP Hewell, had been in custody over Christmas and was expecting an immediate jail sentence.

Mr Aris said: “He is remorseful. He is extremely sorry for what he did.”

Mr Aris said Philpott’s life had spiralled after his baby brother was found drowned in a bath at his home.

“It damaged him mentally,” Mr Aris said.

“He worked in a garage, they let him go. He did cash in hand jobs. Eventually he sought solace at the bottom of a bottle.”

Mr Aris said Philpott later began taking crack cocaine and cocaine, and after he tried to take his own life he was sectioned.

His solicitor appealed to the judge to take into account the tragic circumstances, and be “as lenient as possible”.

Sentencing him, Judge Nicolas Cartwright said he took into account Philpott had been equipped (with tools) to carry out the burglaries, and his previous convictions, but said he could suspend the eight-month prison sentence for two years.

The judge said: “You should understand you have been given a chance today and you should grasp it. If you find yourself back in front of the criminal courts, you won’t be given any more chances.”