A CRUEL confidence trickster who persuaded his elderly victims to part with their savings and cherished possessions to fund his gambling habit has been jailed for two years.

Former energy advisor John Reynolds admitted six fraud offences and asked for an additional 13 similar offences to be taken into consideration at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Prosecutor Tim Bradbury said the frauds had taken place between May last year and February this year, involving 14 victims, ranging in age from their 60s to 89, who had lost around £9,500. During part of that period 53-year-old Reynolds was employed by Npower.

Mr Bradbury said Reynolds had visited Eileen Jordan, 67, at his home in Bournemouth last September while employed as an energy advisor.

“He said he was about to be made homeless if he didn’t get any cash. She gave him £200 and he returned later that same day for another £200,” he said.

Ms Jordan handed over a further £950 before being persuaded to pawn four of her rings which she never saw again.

After leaving Npower, Reynolds from St Swithuns Road, Boscombe, worked as a carpet cleaner.

After visiting Heather Rickman’s home he persuaded her to give him £920 after telling her he needed help to find a deposit for his landlord.

The court heard how Npower had refunded money owed to Reynolds’ victims.

An Npower spokesman said: “We were extremely concerned when we identified this had occurred.

“We immediately notified the police and launched a full investigation.

“We have fully reimbursed everyone we identified as having been affected.”

Following his arrest on February 16 this year Reynolds told police he had a gambling problem and was hoping to repay his victims with winnings which never materialised.

In his defence, the court was told that Reynolds had entered early guilty pleas and made frank admissions.

The entire proceeds of his crimes had been used to fund his gambling habit and he was “deeply ashamed”.

Sentencing Reynolds, Judge Samuel Wiggs described the offences as “dishonest and mean,” adding: “You deliberately targeted a substantial number of vulnerable victims over a lengthy period of time.”