Bogus official con-man caged

SERIAL con artist, John Lee Benson, who fleeced pensioners in Leigh and Atherton by posing as a water board official, has been caged for eight years.

Police said that the 42-year-old would buy a bus day saver ticket, and then target as many homes as possible within easy range of the bus stop wherever he ended up.

Benson, of Sedgefield Close, Salford, pleaded guilty to nine counts of burglary, one count of robbery and one count of attempted burglarywith 40 offences taken into consideration.

Since March 2008 officers from all over Greater Manchester were receiving reports of elderly people having cash stolen from their homes by a man of a similar description claiming to be from the water board.

He would arrive at the victim's house and, without producing ID, claim he was from the water board to get inside. He would then distract the occupants, by asking them to do something, while he searched the house.

Benson managed to use this technique to steal two gold rings from the home of a 91-year-old woman, on Wigan Road, Leigh on Monday, April 14.

This offence followed previous attempts, over the space of an hour and a half, to steal from three nearby houses in Wigan Road, Twist Lane and Milton Street. Fortunately on all occasions Benson was not left alone so was unable to steal anything.

Among the crimes taken into consideration were two attempted burglaries from houses in Brook Street, Atherton.

In July 2008, press appeals led to information provided from people approached by Benson and he was arrested on January 29 this year in Little Hulton.

Det Con Matt Adshead said: "Bringing Benson to justice is the culmination of lots of hard work by officers across the force.

"We would like to thank all of those members of the public who gave us the information we needed to see Benson where he now belongs: behind bars."