A ‘serial offender’ who was using a woman’s bank card within three hours of it being taken in a night-time burglary at her Rugby home has been jailed.
Anthony Nicholson was cleared of taking part in the burglary following a trial at Warwick Crown Court, but convicted of fraudulently using a bank card taken during the break-in.
Nicholson (60) of Park Road, Rugby, who pleaded guilty to a second fraudulent use of the card, was jailed for nine months.
Prosecutor Omar Majid said that on February 15 a woman got up at about 6am and found that the front door of her Rugby home was ajar.
She went into the living room where she discovered that her handbag containing her phone, some cash and her HSBC debit card had been stolen, so she called the bank to cancel it.
By then the card had been used to carry out contactless transactions – the first of which had been at Rugby railway station to purchase a return ticket to Leamington.
And when the police checked a CCTV camera they could see the person carrying out the transaction was Nicholson.
Mr Majid said the card was then used by another person, with Nicholson also present, three times at the Asda store in Rugby and once at a Tesco store before it was stopped because it had exceeded the spending limit.
Nicholson then travelled by train to Leamington where he tried to use the card at a shop near the railway station to buy scratch cards, but it was rejected because it had been cancelled by then.
“So he was the first and last person to use it,” observed Mr Majid.
When he was arrested Nicholson denied taking part in the burglary, but said he had gone to Asda with someone who he believed had a right to use the card.
He said that man then gave him the card so he could buy some food while he was in Leamington – but claimed he had bought the ticket for cash, which Mr Majid pointed out was untrue.
Since then, Nicholson had changed his story, admitting attempted fraud at the shop in Leamington on the basis that by then he realised the card had been stolen.
But he continued to maintain that when he had used it to get the train ticket, having been given it by the other man, he believed he had permission to do so – which the jury rejected.
The court heard Nicholson had a large number of previous convictions for offences including burglary – and in June 2017 had been jailed for two years and eight months for a burglary in which he took a woman’s handbag and then used her bank card.
After the jury had found him not guilty of taking part in the February 15 burglary, but guilty of fraud, Judge Peter Cooke commented: “He’s a serial offender, and has been for decades.”
Lee Masters, defending, said: “It is patently obvious he has a problem with drugs, and he’s been seeking help. He has asked ‘Can the judge make some kind of order to help me with the drugs?’
“There are times when he’s released that he manages to stay off drugs, but then he drifts back.”
Judge Cooke said he would consider a more constructive sentence – but it was then found that Nicholson had been recalled to prison to continue serving the 2017 sentence from which he was on licence at the time.