A VICIOUS thief who won the trust of the elderly and disabled in order to rob them of thousands has been jailed for nearly four years.
Natalie Leach, 28, of Eversfield Place, St Leonards, was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment at Hove Crown Court. She was found guilty of nine counts of theft, one count of grievous bodily harm (GBH) and one count of robbery, all committed against vulnerable men.
Detective Inspector Fran Mitchell, from East Sussex Adult Protection Team, condemned Leach’s ‘despicable crimes’.
She said: “These were the acts of a heartless woman who saw an opportunity to befriend vulnerable men, involve herself in their lives and systematically steal from them.”
Leach pleaded not guilty when she appeared at Lewes Crown Court in January this year and the matter went to trial in July.
The court heard how Leach targeted vulnerable victims, cosying up to the disabled and elderly before systematically stealing from them.
One victim, a St Leonards man who was 76 at the time, had more than £1,000 stolen from him. Leach also shoved the man, resulting in him breaking his femur, having to have a hip replacement and undergo a series of operations. A 24-year-old disabled man from Bexhill had around £6,000 taken from his bank account and Leach’s third victim, a 52-year-old man from St Leonards with learning disabilities, had more than £1,000 stolen from him.
Speaking after the sentencing, DI Mitchell said: “I am pleased the investigation by my team of officers enabled Leach to be brought to justice. I hope that her sentence sends out a strong message that Sussex Police will act on information and bring those to justice who seek to commit these despicable crimes.”