Burglar conned vulnerable pensioners

A SERIAL burglar who preyed on the faulty memories of vulnerable pensioners, including a half-deaf war veteran, has been jailed for five years.

Thursday, 1st July 2010, 3:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm

Marilyn Fuller (pictured), 32, of Hillside Road, repeatedly targeted the elderly, conning her way into their homes by greeting them with hugs and kisses, pretending to be a long-lost relative, and feigning knowledge of family funerals.

She even used two children, aged 10 and 11, to help her over the doorstep in some cases.

Once inside, she rifled through family heirlooms, helped herself to drinks of whisky and used emotional blackmail to coax cash from her victims.

Speaking at Brighton Law Courts on Monday, sitting as Lewes Crown, Judge Paul Tain told a weeping Fuller: "The offences you committed are simply awful. They are the worst offences that we often think about when we think about our elderly relatives and our own situations as we get older.

"It simply beggars belief. That you are prepared to target the same people more than once beggars belief."

Though she initially denied all knowledge of the offences, Fuller eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated burglary between May 22, 2009 and March 31 this year.

One victim, a 93-year-old man, of Magdalene Road, was described by the court as partially deaf from serving in World War II and of poor vision.

He let Fuller into his home on March 29, 2010, after she called him "Uncle Ron," hugging and kissing him, saying it was "nice to see him after all these years".

She helped herself to a drink of whisky before wheedling 50 from the veteran, saying it was for train fare home.

Ryan Richter, prosecuting, said: "He became suspicious at this point but did not want to lose face if she was part of his family so handed her the money."

Fuller pressured the 93-year-old to hand over more cash, before moving upstairs to rifle his dead wife's drawers and asking to keep her handbag.

Returning two days later she demanded more money, claiming she needed 500 to pay for her mother's funeral.

The court also heard Fuller targeted a 90-year-old woman, of Manor Road, on October 18, 2009.

The 90-year-old's daughter, who cares for her mother, opened the door. Fuller feigned knowledge of a recent family death, asking the daughter how she was coping.

Once inside, she asked to use the toilet and then stole 1,000 from a hallway table - money set aside by the family to pay for the funeral.

Designer sunglasses, worth 250, were also taken.

Fuller returned twice more, on November 1 and November 21, but was blocked.

Adam James, defending, said Fuller had shown genuine remorse.

"She accepts that she will be punished," he said.

"There's only one point she can claim credit from and that's her plea of guilty."

Sentencing, Judge Paul Tain told Fuller: "You have been acquiring information in relation to extremely vulnerable people and using that information to extract whatever you could from those people.

"The offences are of real, real seriousness and the only way we can get the message through to people who are prepared to commit these kind of offences is by imposing significant sentences.

"This is organised crime, not just accidental stuff. The impact of this type of crime on the elderly is disproportionately high."

She will serve half of her five year sentence, with 86 days spent in custody taken into account.

DI Ian Williams, of Bexhill Police Station, said: "Fuller was able to get away with her crimes because she preyed on some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

"However, the unique nature of her crimes made it obvious that it was her who was responsible when these matters were reported and in the end the weight of evidence was mutually supportive in each instance leading to her conviction.

"The sentence of five years imprisonment sends out a clear and unequivocal message to anyone who commits this type of crime and they must now realise that even if they are not prosecuted in the first instance the past will catch up with them."