Brothers’ “nasty trick” on 96-year-old Rugby man

The justice centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits
The justice centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits

Two brothers carried out a “nasty trick” to fool a 96-year-old Rugby man into parting with his bank card which was then used to get thousands of pounds from his account.

And while they were on bail, heartless Antony Fawkner targeted another Rugby pensioner to carry out an identical scam, Warwick Crown Court has heard.

Antony Fawkner, 54, of Logan Road, Coventry, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to a total of nine charges of theft, one of attempted theft and one of fraud.

His younger brother Kevin Fawkner, 51, of Redcar Road, Coventry, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud, and was jailed for 18 months.

Prosecutor Ben Close said that in May last year a 96-year-old man, who lived alone at his home in Rugby, received a phone call from someone purporting to be from BT saying his direct debit had not been paid.

Setting up the well-planned scam, the caller said BT would contact his bank on his behalf.

He then received a call from a different man claiming to be from the TSB saying his account had been fraudulently accessed, so someone would collect his debit card, which he was asked to put in an envelope, prior to a new one being issued.

The bogus bank representative called back later just as Kevin Fawkner arrived at the old man’s home, and asked to speak to Kevin who confirmed he now had the card.

But it was a fingerprint found on the phone which led to Kevin being linked to the fraud.

The victim was not sure whether he had revealed his pin number, but it was then used on several occasions by Antony to take money from his account over the next two days.

He withdrew £3,000 from a Lloyds branch in Coventry the same day, followed by two £2,000 withdrawals from different branches the following morning.

Just after that, someone activated a £10,000 transfer from the old man’s savings account into his current account – and further withdrawals of £2,000 were then made by Antony from the Lloyds TSB branches in Earlsdon Street and Walsgrave Road.

But when he tried to get another £2,000 from the branch in Foleshill Road, a suspicious cashier checked the details of the account-holder – and realised the person at the counter was considerably younger than 96.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones commented: “It’s a pity that didn’t happen earlier.”

When the brothers were arrested, Kevin claimed he had no knowledge of what was going on, and had just been asked by an acquaintance to pick up an envelope – but accepted telling the old man he was from the fraud investigation department.

He claimed he had no idea his brother was involved – and Antony said he had been approached in a pub by a Nigerian who drove him round and paid him £500 for going into the banks to get the cash which he then handed over.

Both men were granted bail, and in August another Rugby pensioner, an 86-year-old, had a call telling him the security on his account had been breached.

The victim was asked for the details of his debit card and told someone would be round to collect it. Shortly afterwards, Antony Fawkner arrived to pick it up.

He carried out a test withdrawal of £20 from a cash machine before making three £2,000 over-the-counter withdrawals at different branches and one attempt which was not successful.

Mr Close added that both Fawkners had previous convictions for dishonesty – but nothing since the early 90s.

Ian Speed, for Kevin, said that in a pre-sentence report he had tried to minimise his involvement, but “now accepts he was a main player in a confidence trick which preyed on an elderly and vulnerable victim”.

Judge Griffith-Jones interjected: “It was a terrible thing to do to someone of 96 who’s doing really well to live by himself.”

Mr Speed added: “The only question he has is whether the sentence can be suspended – but I’ve told him there’s slim chance of that.”

Gerald Bermingham, for Antony, conceded: “He knows he’s going to prison. The question is: for how long?”

He said the offences had taken place at a time when Antony, who had kept out of trouble for so long, had had his benefit suspended and was ‘sofa-surfing’ with friends.

Jailing the brothers, Judge Griffith-Jones said: “There are many thousands of elderly people who live in our country, and a high proportion of them live on their own.

“Many of them are of a very advanced age, as at least one of these victims was – 96 and living on his own. Marvellous.

“Old age brings enough to worry about, with their health and how they’re going to manage, and the need they have for self-confidence.

“This is the sort of nasty trick which in truth would probably have fooled many people who were much younger – but you selected them because they were old.

“Although the banks have compensated them, they did not know that at first.”