A RUTHLESS conman who preyed on elderly clients could lose part of his £70,000 pension fund when he comes to claim it in six years’ time.
Shamed financial adviser Stewart Sermon, 48, who targeted 85-year-old Mary Gabbott in Bamber Bridge, amongst other victims, is serving a five year jail term.
In a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, Sermon was ordered to pay a nominal fee of £1 by Judge Simon Newell after it was found he had no realisable assets – but was warned the case would be revisited in six years time when he is due to draw his pension.
Preston’s Sessions House court heard he had benefitted to the tune of £97,498.38 from his crimes.
Prosecuting, Paul Cummings said: “the defedant wishes it to be known he has already paid £15,500 back to the estate of the late Mrs Gabbott.”
The pensioner passed away before he pleaded guilty to his crimes, leading the offences he committed against her to be left to lie on file.
The previous court case was told that self-employed Sermon, formerly of Bellingham Drive, Wigan, befriended and “groomed” vulnerable pensioners and stole more than £50,000 – and even forced one to changed his will. He was jailed for two counts of theft.
He befriended three vulnerable pensioners, including Mrs Gabbott, an independent lady who lived alone but had some support from carers with shopping and household chores.
In November 2010 a carer showed Mrs Gabbott a letter from her bank stating she was £9,500 overdrawn, leaving the pensioner unable to pay for her care costs. The previous week, Mrs Gabbott had been visited by a man claiming to be from the bank, offering to go through her details with her. When it emerged her savings were missing a social worker contacted the police.
The subsequent investigation uncovered two other elderly people who had been victims of the unscrupulous financial adviser.
Sermon, who worked as a consultant with BL Investments Ltd of Haydock on a commission-only basis, befriended elderly Brendan Murphy from Wigan, even attending his sister’s funeral.
The following year the pensioner, in increasingly frail health, gave Sermon a cheque for £25,470 to invest for him. But instead he kept the funds.
It was found Sermon made Mr Murphy draft a new will in 2006, making himself a beneficiary and executor. Two years later Sermon pocketed a further £25,000 from 63-year-old William Hewitt after promising to invest the money.
His defence lawyer revealed he had a gambling habit and that a change in the financial world affected his business.