'I still have panic attacks', victim of conman speaks out

Runcorn and Widnes World: Jean Antrobus Jean Antrobus

A CONMAN who left two vulnerable women ‘permanently scarred’ after swindling their life savings has been jailed for 20 months.

Warrington Crown Court heard how love rat Derek McMaster, aged 64, of Falcon Hey, Liverpool exploited his victims through lonely heart adverts in local newspapers.

Recorder Andrew Long said: “This case involved the deliberate exploitation by you, of two vulnerable women.

“It’s clear both women have been scarred, I suspect permanently.

“You then gave self-pitying excuses for what you had done.”

Prosecuting, Andrew Green described how McMaster first targeted kidney dialysis patient Margaret Dickinson.

The 64-year-old has renal failure, Chron’s disease and chronic arthritis.

The ‘perfect gentleman’ moved in and became her carer, gaining trust to use her bank card and steal £3,150 between March and June last year.

McMaster then moved on to Runcorn mum-of-two Jean Antrobus, aged 64, who the court heard desperately wanted ‘a companion to stop feeling so alone’.

She ‘trusted him immediately’, with McMaster claiming to be a semi-retired Merseyside Police officer, and even leaving the house in uniform.

The fraudster asked her to marry him, then used her bank card to steal £5,275.

He used the cash to pay for a ring, meals out and holidays to Rhyl.

His deceit was uncovered when his victim attempted to pay for plastic surgery but found her card was over its limit.

She needed counselling as a result and now feels ‘so guilty over my own stupidity’.

Speaking at home, divorcee Jean said: “He treated me like a queen.Took me out for meals, away for the weekends and bought me flowers.

“I thought I’d died and gone to heaven and all the time he was using my money to pay for everything.

“I feel really hurt and betrayed. I trusted him. He used me.

“I still have this awful churning in my stomach when I wake up and panic attacks.

“He used to go out in a full police uniform with handcuffs and a white shirt. He was so convincing.

“It was terrible because I had got to love him.

“He’s a rotter, a horrible man.

“I don’t want him to break someone else’s heart.”

Defending, Gary Lawrenson said McMaster ‘befriended genuinely’ both women, and stole to pay off loan sharks.

The court also heard how the defendant, who pleaded guilty to fraud, has a ‘dreadful record’ for scamming victims going back to 1994.

He lied to gain a license as a driving instructor, before ripping off students by overcharging them for driving lessons.

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