Oxfordshire: Man Who Conned Grieving Mum Avoids Jail

25 March 2014, 18:21 | Updated: 25 March 2014, 18:34

50-year-old Gary Sheehy admitted tricking Lee Mackey out of £4,000 of her son's life insurance money earlier this month.

Lee says he befriended her and would do odd jobs around her house in Bampton, after her son Jason was killed in Afghanistan.

She says he knew at the time what a vulnerable state she was in:

"He knew the reason... You know, like I'd say 'Jason would normally do that' [and he'd say] 'Oh don't worry, darling, you know... I'm always here to help you'... It makes me feel sick. It actually makes me feel sick."

He initially took £3,500 from her for an investment in a 'business venture' and then asked for a further £850.

Thames Valley Police says he had no intention of starting any business.

Investigating officer Det Sgt Dick White said:

"This was an extremely vulnerable time for the victim who had just lost her son, who had been serving as a marine in the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. The money the offender obtained was part of the life insurance awarded to the victim following his death."

Lee then became suspicious after Sheehy failed to repay the money and began avoiding her.

Sheehy was charged with two counts of fraud by false representation, which he pleaded guilty to at Oxford Crown Court.

He was given a nine month sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to complete 120 hours of community service and pay £2,000 in victim compensation.

Lee tells Heart she thinks it's unlikely she'll get her money back, but explains that it was never about the money in the first place:

"It's the principle of it. The fact that it was Jason's money and, this man knowing how this money had been approporiated, that he was still prepared to dishonestly use this money."

She also thinks she's unlikely she'll get an apology from Sheehy, but that doesn't bother her:

"What's an apology from him? He's not even a nice person! It would mean absolutely nothing. It's far more important that justice is done and that we name and shame him and that he's not able to do this to anyone else in the future."