Dagenham teenager cashed cheques his accomplice stole from his grandfather

Barkingside Magistrates Court. Picture: KEN MEARS

Barkingside Magistrates Court. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

A teenager from Dagenham has admitted cashing cheques stolen from the vulnerable grandfather of an accomplice.

Barkingside Magistrates' Court heard Rhys Howard, 18, of Hedgemans Road, succeeded in cashing two cheques worth £3,100.

Howard gave the majority of the money to his 17-year-old accomplice, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who had stolen the cheques from his grandfather.

The con carried out between January and February this year was uncovered when Howard tried to cash a further two cheques which subsequently bounced.

Sabrina Cribb, prosecuting lawyer, said Howard was of good character but there were "aggravating features" because the victim was a "vulnerable" man.

"It's pre-planned, it's targeted. [The victim] lost a significant amount," Ms Cribb said.

Howard, described as "rather naive", did not know that cashing the cheques was illegal and was coerced into doing it by the teenager to whom he owed money, the court heard.

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The part-time labourer had been excluded from secondary school leaving a pupil referral unit with few qualifications.

He also suffered with mental health difficulties.

Defending, Deborah Okebu, said: "From a young age [he] has been a loner. At primary he was considered a naughty child. He was excluded from secondary for bad behaviour but it was really him not coping."

She argued Howard did not have enough confidence to tell his accomplice they were not doing the right thing.

The court heard that an "easily influenced" Howard gave his bank card and pin number to the teenager so he could withdraw the cash.

He fled to Bradford in a bid to escape his accomplice but returned out of concern for his ill mum.

Yesterday Howard pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation and four of theft.

He was ordered to pay £500 and given a 12-month community order.

In sentencing, chair magistrate Helen Kingsford said: "Your mother has offered to pay.

"It's not her debt. It's yours. If you fail to pay, you could be brought back to court."

Howard must also wear a tag and observe an eight-week long curfew between 7pm and 7am.

His accomplice pleaded guilty at Barkingside Magistrates' Court on June 25 to the same charges. He was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order and ordered to pay £200 compensation.

The money has not been recovered.