Wigan pensioner upset at ‘terrible’ sentence given to youth who used his stolen credit card

A pensioner has described the punishment given to a teenager who used his stolen credit card as “terrible”.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' CourtWigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

John Lees, 92, had buried his wife of 60 years Elizabeth just days before the card was taken from his home in Norley.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has since appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced for making a false representation.

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He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months, meaning he will face no punitive measures for his crime unless he commits further offences in that time.

Speaking after the court hearing, Mr Lees said: “I think that’s terrible. He will be laughing and joking.”

The boy must pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 towards prosecution costs, but was not ordered to pay compensation to Mr Lees.

He said: “It’s not the money I’m bothered about, it’s the callousness of it.”

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Mr Lees said the credit card was stolen from his house in April as he put out his bins.

He had left his jacket, which contained the card, on the back of a chair and it was taken while he popped out.

The youngster, from Norley, was later caught on a shop’s CCTV camera spending the widower’s money on alcohol and cigarettes.

Mr Lees said he went on a “spending spree” in Pemberton, using the contactless feature on his card to make payments for items.

A total of £80 was spent.

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Mr Lees, who has five children and five grandchildren, said: “I didn’t realise it had been done until I was told by Santander someone was using my credit card.”

It came as a big blow for Mr Lees as it was only days after his beloved wife’s funeral.

She died at the age of 87, after suffering from dementia, and Mr Lees had been visiting her every day in a nursing home.

“I had just buried my wife and he took my card. It was terrible,” he said.

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“I felt terrible about it. I’m 92 and he’s taken advantage of an elderly person.”

Mr Lees wanted to attend the hearing at the magistrates’ court, which was sitting as a youth court, to see the teenager being sentenced, but was told he could not go in as he had not registered.

Mr Lees, who used to work as a rep for a marketing company, said: “I wanted to look him in the eye in the court, but was told I wouldn’t be able to go in because of his age.”

The teen did not turn up for his first court appearance and a warrant was issued.

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When he did attend, he pleaded guilty to making a false representation.

The plea was taken into account when he was sentenced.

He faced only one charge as police did not have any evidence to pin the theft of Mr Lees’ card on him, so he was not charged with burglary.

Mr Lees praised bank Santander for their help.

He said: “Santander have been very good. They have given the money back. That’s one thing at least.”