Conman bought Mazda, designer goods and cocaine by running up £22k debts on friend’s credit card

HOMELESS conman James McGrath was jailed for 32 months after repaying a Good Samaritan’s kindness by stealing his identity and running up £22,000 on credit cards.

McGrath, 25, of Latimer Court, had been allowed to stay at Vinnie Helwig’s home when he had nowhere else to go.

While there, he intercepted his post and took out four credit cards in Mr Helwig’s name.

He bought a Mazda, designer goods, and cocaine and stayed in hotels and gambled, Northampton Crown Court heard on Friday.

Prosecutor Caroline Bray said Mr Helwig knew McGrath from a kick boxing club and offered him a bed in November 2010.

Three months later, Mr Helwig realised something was wrong when he found a letter from MBNA – one of the four credit card companies – addressed to him about card protection.

He phoned the company and was told a credit card had been obtained in his name and taken to its £7,500 limit.

The 31-year-old plumber of St James, Northampton confronted McGrath and then found out that McGrath had taken out other cards and had bought a Mazda RX8.

Police searched his room and found four pairs of new trainers and an Xbox 360 still in their boxes, a Blackberry android mobile phone, a watch and stereo, all newly purchased.

Once arrested, McGrath admitted talking out the credit cards because he was being chased by drug dealers who were owed £40,000.

McGrath pleaded guilty to 14 fraud charges.

Jailing him Judge Richard Bray said, “These offences are aggravated by the fact they were committed upon a man who had the kindness to take you into his lodgings and you repaid that kindness with calculated cruelty – determined, quite sophisticated and well planned fraud.”

After hearing from the prosecutor that Mr Helwig was now unable to obtain credit himself because of problems with Capital One and Barclaycard caused by the fraud the judge said, “These two companies should accept Mr Helwig is an innocent victim and take appropriate steps to reimburse him for all he has lost.

“It would be a serious blot on their reputations if they did not.”