‘Nasty’ Portsmouth fraudster who conned 97-year-old woman over a fundraiser for her ‘dead baby’ is jailed

A ‘NASTY’ fraudster who conned a 97-year-old woman into believing she was raising funds for her dead daughter before making off with £500 has been jailed.

Con artist Kayleigh Mitchell, 29, duped vulnerable elderly people into believing a fictitious story she was raising money for a charity event after claiming her daughter had died of leukaemia, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

Kayleigh Mitchell

Kayleigh Mitchell

The callous trickster turned up at a block of flats in January where, equipped with a clipboard and picture of a baby, she knocked on doors before delivering her fake spiel to convince unsuspecting people to part with their money.

Mitchell, of London Road, Portsmouth, persuaded the 97-year-old lady of her pretend fundraiser, resulting in the victim handing over £5. 

But the calculating defendant then stole £500 out of the pensioner’s purse when her back was turned. It happened in Heathfield Close, Southampton.

Prosecutor James Kellam said: ‘The victim invited Ms Mitchell into her flat where she asked the lady for a glass of water, a classic distraction technique. 

‘While the lady’s back was turned the defendant went through her purse and stole £500. When the victim came back and challenged Ms Mitchell she made her excuses and left.’

Mr Kellam said Mitchell then went to another address and persuaded a man to sign-up for her walking fundraiser, though he stated he would not hand over any money until after it had been completed.

The 97-year-old victim revealed the incident had seriously impacted on her. ‘It’s left me feeling that everything is getting on top of me. It’s been very traumatic,’ she said in her statement read out in court by Mr Kellam.

‘I think about it a lot and sometimes wake up at night. I had planned to put my money away somewhere. My health has suffered and I just want the whole thing behind me.’

Defending, James Caldwell, said he hoped the sentence would bring closure for the female victim. ‘Ms Mitchell does express regret and disgust at what she did to an old lady,’ he said. ‘It was a nasty offence. But there was no threats or use of force.’

The court was told that Mitchell, who has 35 previous convictions, committed the offences while she was on licence from jail having been sent to prison for six years in 2016 for 12 burglaries and false representation.

The court heard Mitchell had given birth to a child while in jail which had since been adopted. An addiction for heroin, which she was being treated for, had replaced one for alcohol.

Judge David Melville QC, sentencing Mitchell to three years prison after she admitted burglary and two charges of fraud, said: ‘You caused great harm to the occupants. It was carefully planned. You had the clipboard, photo and the talk.’