A man who plundered more than £12,000 from the post office account of a vulnerable man with learning difficulties and stole money from a blind man in the street in Bedford has been been jailed for four-and-a-half-years
Chaman Pal was told by Judge Rebecca Herbert on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 “These offences are particularly despicable.”
She told him his offending had been “calculated and on-going” and intended to exploit the “extreme vulnerability” of his victim.
The judge said: “You showed a callous disregard for his welfare and manipulated him into believing you were his friend.”
The result, she said, had been to completely drain the man’s post office account leaving just 68 pence in it.
Pal, 43, of Shakespeare Road in Bedford (formerly living in Kempston) was appearing for sentence at Luton Crown Court having by found guilty in March this year of one charge of blackmail, two charges of fraud involving the first victim and theft concerning the blind man who he’d targeted because of his white stick.
Pal also pleaded guilty to burgling a church in Bedford during which he took £400 in cash from an office and three further offences of theft from vulnerable people in the town.
At his trial in March the jury was told the man who had money taken out of his post office account was a vulnerable person with learning difficulties and very “conservative” with his money.
He lived in Bedford and received regular visits from care workers who provided the support he needed.
The care workers would open the man’s mail for him and it was a statement that had been sent to him from the post office that started alarm bells ringing.
“It showed large quantities of cash being withdrawn from the man’s account on a daily basis.
“It appeared to be out of character because the man was known to be very conservative with his cash,” said Scott Brady who prosecuted Pal.
The jury heard that the post office the victim attended was in St John’s Street, Kempston, where it was known by the manager that he was vulnerable.
As a result he would be helped through the process of withdrawing money.
It was at this post office, the jury heard, that the defendant would also call at.
The manager knew him to be someone who came in to buy alcohol, but then noticed how in early 2018 he was withdrawing money from an account there.
The jury was told the manager knew no new accounts had been opened at the branch and suspecting he might be using a the account of a vulnerable person, reported the matter to the police.
Mr Brady said from the summer through to the autumn of 2017 the victim’s post office account showed a healthy balance with £12,767 in the account.
However, within a short period of time money started to be taken out of the account on a regular basis from branches in Bedford and using the victim’s bank card.
As a result the account was suspended in January 4 2018, but four days later it was reinstated.
That same day, said Mr Brady, £600 was taken out of the account followed by a “continuous draining of money out of the account.”
By January 23 there was just 68 pence in the account and Pal had taken in the region of £12,000 from it.
The jury was told that it was also discovered that during the same period, around £950 had been taken out of the victim’s Barclay Bank account.
Questioned by the police the victim told officers the defendant had followed him to the post office and got his PIN number off him.
He said Mr Pal also kept coming to his home asking for money and would get violent if he didn’t give him any.
Mr Pal was questioned by the police and claimed any money he had withdrawn from the accounts of the victim had been with his permission.
Mr Brady then said on October 7, 2018 pal had taken £20 off a blind man and charity worker outside a food bank near the bus station in Bedford.
Today when he came back to be sentenced, Judge Herbert was told how last September Pal had targeted a man in a mobility scooter who was trying to withdraw money from a cash point machine in Bedford Town Centre.
Pretending to assist the man, Pal withdrew £100 from the man’s account handing him £40 and telling him “that’s all that’s come out.”
Three days later after stopping a man in a Bedford street go ask him if he could change a £20 note, Pal ended up stealing around £15 from him.
In October he carried out a burglary at the Bedford Pentecostal Church.
After going into an office at the building he stole £400 that was in an envelope and a bank card.
Finally, the the court on November 1, last year he had gone up to a woman in Ampthill Road in Bedford despite the fact he was already the subject of a criminal behaviour order not to contact her.
He asked her if she had any money before reaching into her bag, taking out a purse and taking from it £10.
Pal was arrested shortly afterwards and remanded in custody.
Passing sentence Judge Herbert said Pal would have to serve half of the four-and-a-half-years in custody before he can be released on licence back into the community.