Leeds widow, 91, ‘gravely ill’ after falling victim to conman thief

Joyce Brehaut, aged 91
Joyce Brehaut, aged 91
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The son of an elderly widow says his mother has fallen gravely ill after being targeted by a “coward” who stole from her after conning his way into her home.

Joyce Brehaut, 91, was in her sheltered housing flat off Smalewell Road in Pudsey, Leeds, when a man knocked on her door asking to use a pen and paper.

Mrs Brehaut's son, Malcolm

Mrs Brehaut's son, Malcolm

He then followed inside and grabbed a purse containing just £13 that was on top of the zimmer frame she was using. #

Mrs Brehaut’s son, Malcolm, says her health deteriorated rapidly following the incident.

She has been given just days to live by doctors at St James’s Hospital.

Mr Brehaut, 69, who lives in Rodley, said: “He didn’t hurt her in any way but he mentally scarred her. She ended up not feeling safe in her home and went downhill.

“To go after elderly people who can’t defend themselves, to me, makes him the scum of the earth.”

Malcolm Brehaut, son of victim Joyce

“She used to love going to bingo a few afternoons a week but she lost interest in that. She didn’t want to go shopping or anything. She just gave up.”

The incident happened at about 2.25pm on Saturday, August 29.

The thief knocked on Mrs Brehaut’s door claiming his grandmother lived in the flat upstairs and asked if she knew her before asking if he could leave a note.

After he followed her in and snatched her purse, Mrs Brehaut – who has cancer – tried to grab him but he shrugged her off and ran off. The purse contained cash, bank cards and stamps.

Mr Brehaut said: “I think he’s a bloody coward. To go after elderly people who can’t defend themselves, to me, makes him the scum of the earth.”

The thief was white, about 5ft 10ins tall, and stocky. He was described as being cross-eyed and may have been wearing a body-warmer.

Detective Inspector Anthony Scopelliti, of Leeds neighbourhood crime team, said: “While the victim was not physically injured, the trauma of this incident has affected her very badly and has seen her taken into hospital where she remains.

“Her family are understandably upset about this and we need to trace the person responsible.

“We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen this man in the area or had someone call at their home in similar circumstances. We would also like to hear from anyone who thinks they know who was responsible or who has any information that could assist the investigation.”

Anyone with information should contact Detective Constable Simon Daley at Weetwood police station via 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.