A serial thief who deliberately preyed on vulnerable young adults has been jailed for 12 months.
Thomas Fallon, 22, from Harrogate, ‘befriended’ the victims with the express intention of stealing from them, York Crown Court heard.
Over a four-month period, Fallon stole several hundred pounds in cash and games consoles after targeting a young man with schizophrenia and another who was living in supported accommodation for vulnerable adults.
The three victims - including a young woman who put her trust in Fallon - had let him stay at their homes because he was penniless and effectively homeless after splitting up with his girlfriend.
But the callous thief repaid them in the cruellest fashion by stealing their bank cards which he used to withdraw money from their accounts.
Fallon - who has many previous convictions for similar matters dating back to 2009 and has had several spells in young-offenders’ institutions - was arrested and charged with five counts of theft and one of fraud between October 1, 2015, and January 5 this year.
He appeared at the Crown Court on Thursday, when he admitted a further fraud charge against the female victim and failing to surrender to police custody.
Prosecutor Eleanor Fry said that on October 7 last year, Fallon was staying at the home of his female friend in Harrogate when he stole her bank card and used it to withdraw £170 from her account. He phoned her five days later to apologise, but the money was never reimbursed.
Fallon, of no fixed abode, then ‘befriended’ a vulnerable young man with serious mental-health problems including schizophrenia. He persuaded the victim to lend him £350 with a promise of repayment, but no money was ever paid back.
The ruthless thief turned up at the victim’s home and asked to borrow his PlayStation and X-Box, which were also never returned.
A few weeks later, he hoodwinked a vulnerable young man whose home was monitored by care staff. Fallon stayed the night at the victim’s flat, but scurried off in the morning after stealing a bank card and using it to withdraw £250.
Defence barrister Taryn Turner conceded that Fallon’s latest offences were “particularly mean”.
She added that Fallon - who has previous convictions for burglary and numerous thefts - had found work as a kitchen porter at a Harrogate restaurant after being released from a young-offenders’ institution in February last year.
But Judge Guy Kearl QC said an immediate prison sentence was the only option because Fallon had abused the trust of vulnerable people who had shown him the hand of friendship.