A thief who fled to Spain after plotting to steal from a disabled £1m lottery winner has started serving a long prison sentence.
Jamie Tindall, 29, and three other men conspired to steal the vulnerable woman’s money and squander it on betting websites.
The gang set up a bogus online betting account under her name and gambled away almost £60,000 of her money from a North Sea oil rig.
Tindall had introduced her to his cousin Aaron Harvey, 27, who was “recruited” to start seeing her and get hold of her banking details, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Tindall’s brother Jacob, 32, and Lee Khan, 31, set up the fake account with Bet365 from the oil platform, and lost thousands on “bad bets”.
The gang frittered away £41,200 in about 100 minutes after hatching their plan together, prosecutor Andrew Finlay said on Thursday.
When Bet365 froze the account, they tried unsuccessfully to persuade the website to reopen it, using the woman’s driving licence and bank statements.
Then they spent another £17,844 from her account on other gambling sites, the court was told.
The victim discovered the theft days later when her card was declined, and battled with the trauma, stress and anxiety of the investigation and court case since.
She said in statements she was angry, upset, worried and scared as the trial was repeatedly delayed.
She suffered sleepless nights and considered giving up as she felt the men were “playing games”.
She was forced to relive her ordeal in a trial as Tindall and the others denied conspiring to steal.
After she started giving her evidence, they finally pleaded guilty.
But her emotional upheaval continued as the Tindall brothers did not turn up for sentence in April: “I felt as though they’d got away with what they had done to me.”
The brothers fled to Spain, but they have now both been caught.
Jamie Tindall, whose address was recorded in court as prison, was arrested on his return to the UK.
He had 51 previous offences and had served jail terms for burglaries and drugs.
Kieran Rainey, defending, said the dad was sorry, made no financial gain and had now cleaned up his act and sworn off crime for his family in the years since the conspiracy.
He argued Jamie Tindall played a limited role from his Middlesbrough home, foolishly joining in while drinking and taking tablets.
He said the defendant did not set up the betting accounts and only got involved later with a call to Bet365 after they suspended the account.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, was unconvinced, saying: “I don’t accept that. That flies in the face of all the evidence, and common sense.”
Mr Rainey also suggested the victim was targeted because of her lottery win, not frailty or vulnerability.
The judge eventually told the barrister: “Read my lips. I’m not being helped, and more particularly Mr Tindall is not being helped. You’ve just aggravated the situation.”
He later apologised to Mr Rainey for his “intemperate remarks” and said he would not hold the defence lawyer’s rejected arguments against Tindall.
He said the gang deliberately targeted and took advantage of a vulnerable woman.
Tindall, who had apologised for being rude in an earlier hearing, argued with the judge as he passed sentence.
The judge told him: “Don’t you realise by interrupting me constantly you’re ratcheting up the sentence, or could do?”
He said the Tindalls were more heavily involved than Harvey, of Costa Street, Gresham, Middlesbrough, and Khan, of Leven Street, Newport, Middlesbrough, who were previously jailed for three years each.
“That is a finding of fact, Mr Tindall, and it flies in the face of the evidence to suggest otherwise,” he added.
He jailed Jamie Tindall for three-and-a-half years and gave him a 10-year restraining order to protect the victim
Jacob Tindall, of Clough Close, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, still awaits sentence and will appear in court at a later date.
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