A VICTIM of a prolific conman jailed for defrauding vulnerable people out of more than £150,000 says he will never get over his ordeal.

Simon Hayes, aged 48, of Henrietta Street, Leigh, obtained money over a 12-year period to fund his gambling addiction.

Sentencing him to three years and four months behind bars last Thursday, Judge Thomas Teague said: "You obtained money by dishonest means from many elderly and vulnerable victims in a way that was cruel and heartless.

"Your crimes have had a lasting effect on your victims.

"Even when relatively small sums were involved, those losses were still serious from your victims' point of view."

One of his victims was 76-year-old Harry Crook, who was conned out of £40,000.

Speaking exclusively to the Journal this week, Mr Crook, of Pennington Road, said: "I gave him the money to buy some land on Mill Pond Lane, he took me up there and showed me the land and told me it was up for auction.

"For six years nothing happened, he didn't buy the land and I didn't get my money back. He gave me two cheques but they were useless.

"It is not just the money really, it keeps you awake at night.

"I couldn't sleep for worrying if I would ever get it back."

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Hayes approached his victims at their homes or in car parks of retail stores between January 2001 and June 2013, claiming he would be able to get them white or Continued inside JAILED: Leigh conman Simon Hayes electrical goods.

Money was exchanged but the items never arrived.

He also asked some of the victims - who he knew - for money to start a business or buy land, however he never paid back the cash.

In total, Hayes conned £150,050 out of his victims.

Geoff Whelan, defending, said: "The defendant has been gambling for between 25 and 30 years, an addiction which has lost him everything.

It has cost him his marriage and his relationship with his two children and two grandchildren.

"He has tried to follow advice given to him such as not carrying cash or to avoid bookmakers but this is increasingly difficult when they are on every street."

Hayes pleaded guilty to two counts of acquiring property by deception, four counts of theft and 19 counts of fraud on February 13. A further seven counts were ordered to lie on file.

Mr Crook was introduced to Hayes - who police say has been barred from several bookmakers in the area - by a friend who also handed £18,000 over to the conman.

Hayes met 68-year-old Thomas Atherton in a bookmakers in Atherton and, knowing that he was receiving treatment for cancer, took virtual control of his victim's finances, allowing Mr Atherton only a small amount of money to live on every week.

Mr Crook added: "I will never get over what he has done and all to fund a gambling addiction.

"I have applied for compensation but I doubt I will get anything back.

Even if I get a few thousand I will be happy. He has done a horrible thing to a lot of elderly people and I hope they lock him up and throw away the key."

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place on June 6.