Jail for heartless conman who reduced his elderly victims to tears

Rhyce Knauf, 24, of Mayfield Road, Gosport, has been jailed for 48 weeks.
Rhyce Knauf, 24, of Mayfield Road, Gosport, has been jailed for 48 weeks.
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FRAUDSTER Rhyce Knauf conned a string of vulnerable elderly women to pay for his drug addiction.

One terrified 87-year-old suffering from dementia was left agitated, crying and shaking after Knauf demanded £20 for window cleaning he never did.

The woman, of Jamaica Place, Gosport, was unable to give evidence at trial but her neighbour told magistrates: ‘I told him several times to go away because she was getting agitated and upset.

‘She was crying and shaking. I was getting angry with him and frustrated because he wasn’t going away.’

She added: ‘I think it is terrible that someone can do this.’

Another pensioner, 61, from The Crossways, in Gosport, said: ‘I feel stupid because I was conned. I am also worried because I am still in the house on my own.’

Prosecutor Andrew Newman said Knauf turned up at the victim’s home demanding cash for window cleaning he did not do.

All of the frauds were for sums of no more than £20 but Knauf targeted the women as they were vulnerable, the court heard.

Magistrates jailed him for 48 weeks after hearing details of the five frauds and 11 other offences between March 23 last year and February 20.

Detective Constable Heather Hudson praised neighbours of the victims.

‘These were despicable crimes,’ Det Con Hudson said. ‘These cases could not have been prosecuted without the help and support of the local community.’

Knauf must pay £40 to the 87-year-old he visited twice, £20 to one victim and £10 to another in the window cleaning frauds.

Knauf must also pay £20 to a woman, 68, of Beryton Close, Gosport, after he sold her a television for £20 but then returned, said he would swap it but took the TV and cash.

Sergeant Lesley Meenaghan, of Gosport neighbourhood policing team, said: ‘Rhyce Knauf is a nefarious criminal who charms members of the community to part with their cash or property.

‘The victims invariably have very little to give in the first instance. Knauf appears to have no moral compass.’

Graham Hopley, defending, said Knauf had been on the straight and narrow but had started using drugs at the time of the offences.

He said: ‘He’s now completely clean of all illicit substances.’

Mr Hopley added: ‘He says “I can’t really recall the last three years of my life.’