A Runcorn man who befriended an elderly woman and stole up to £7,000 from her has been sentenced to eight months in prison, following investigations by Halton Borough Council and Cheshire Police.

Ronald Travis, 71, of Charlton Close, was found guilty of theft at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday 18 July.

The court heard how Travis befriended the 82-year-old victim when she lived in supported accommodation, which he used to visit regularly, helping with her weekly shopping and paying her bills.

In December 2014 the victim was taken into hospital. She asked Travis to continue helping her with paying the bills and trusted him with her post office card. When she was released from hospital Travis would still go to the shops without her and took her post office card with him.

It was only when the victim was placed in a nursing home in June 2015 that Halton Borough Council’s Corporate Fraud Team noticed that money had been taken from her account. The matter was then referred to Cheshire Police.

While being interviewed by officers, Travis said he didn’t gamble anymore after once getting himself into £50,000 worth of debt back in 2006.

However, his bank statements showed he was addicted to gambling and would gamble on a daily basis.

Detective Constable Emma Myers, of the Public Protection Directorate at Cheshire Constabulary, said: “Travis preyed on an elderly woman by pretending to be her friend and gain her trust when all along he wanted to steal from her.

“At no point did she ask Travis to take money from her account, he made a choice to deceive her by going behind her back and betraying her trust.

“It is with great courage that the victim was able to sit through a trial when Travis refused to accept his wrongdoings.

“Thankfully, he will now pay for his crimes and I hope that this provides some sort of closure to his victim.”

The Council’s Adult Safeguarding, Corporate Fraud and Income & Assessment teams worked closely with the police during the long investigation.

 A Council spokesperson said: “The investigation demonstrated a good working relationship between the police and the local authority in safeguarding adults from abuse in Halton.

 “Throughout this long investigation the lady showed great bravery, resilience and determination although her physical health had declined. She was happy and relieved with the outcome and now feels reassured knowing that Travis will not be able to do to other vulnerable members of the community what he did to her.”