‘Wicked’ con man sentenced

Robert Lodge, five-strike burglar & kidnap victim
Robert Lodge, five-strike burglar & kidnap victim

A BOGUS charity collector stole cash from an 89-year-old man just hours after performing court-ordered community service.

Robert Lodge, 22, was branded “wicked and despicable” after targeting a kind-hearted pensioner who agreed to sponsor him if it was for a good cause.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Lodge himself had been a victim of crime after being kidnapped and threatened with guns and knives last August.

This week Lodge was jailed for three years for his sponsorship scam. Prosecutor Ewan McLachlan said Lodge had previously been ordered to perform unpaid work for the community for public order and handling offences.

He had been carrying out that community sentence near Altofts in October last year when he turned up at the pensioner’s home with a clipboard and an official-looking sponsorship form.

The victim asked Lodge, formerly of Ossett, how much people had been sponsoring him, and was told £5. The pensioner took a bundle of notes, worth £150, from his pocket and began looking for a five pound note. But Lodge grabbed the lot and left.

The court heard Lodge, who admitted burglary, had previous convictions for similar offences involving bogus sponsorship.

Abdul Iqbal, mitigating, said Lodge’s problems began in August 2011, when he was kidnapped for 17 hours and threatened with weapons in a dispute over a car. As a result he was increasingly using sedatives and other non-prescribed drugs, which he needed money to pay for, so he turned to fraud.

But Mr Iqbal said Lodge’s time on remand hadn’t been easy as had been put in the same prison as his tormentors and subjected to threats and violence. The court heard his family had also suffered and been moved to a secret location with the help of the police.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, said of Lodge’s offence, said: “It was a wicked and despicable thing to do.”