A “DESPERATE” formerly homeless man protested as he was sent to prison for conning people out of cash by claiming he was collecting for charity.
Daniel Scarff, 28, said he would lose his job and end up back on the streets, after a judge at Basildon Crown Court sentenced him to eight months.
Scarff was sleeping on a park bench when he knocked on people’s doors in Benfleet, saying he as raising sponsorship for a charity run he was taking part in to help a depression charity.
Between March and June this year, Scarff took between £5 and £10 from each person on their doorstep, collecting £54 in total. The court heard the majority were aged in their 60s and 70s.
Defence solicitor Matthew Bone, mitigating, said Scarff, now living in Farnham Avenue, Wickford, had committed the crimes out of desperation.
He said: “He is now in work for a pension company in Fenchurch Street and has a home in Wickford.
“He was homeless for a long time and he would spend his benefit money on temporary accommodation, but when the money ran out he had to leave.
“It was motivated by a desire to obtain money to survive.”
When people asked him for identification, the court heard he claimed the Echo was sponsoring him.
The fraud came to light when one of his victims got suspicious and rang the newspaper, which confirmed it knew nothing about Scarff or the made-up charity.
The person then rang the police.
Judge David Owen-Jones sentenced Scarff to eight months in prison for each offence, to run concurrently.
He said: “This was a mean, well-planned, targeted series of behaviour in order to con moderately vulnerable people for a bogus charity that never existed.
“Two of the individuals you conned suffered from depression themselves.
“We are, in this nation, one of the most charitable, giving people in the world.
“It’s behaviour such as this which dents that confidence and people lose faith, as some people have indicated in their statements in this case.
“I’m afraid I have come to the opinion the only way to deal with you is a custodial sentence.”
DANIEL Scarff had to be taken to the cells after he criticised the judge while being sentenced.
Judge Owen-Jones repeatedly had to stop while delivering his judgment as Scarff interrupted him, after the judge said he was sending him to prison.
He accused the judge of making him homeless again.
Scarff said: “What is the logic in this? I will now lose my job and my home.
“I want to apologise to everyone about this, I want to do that and now I can’t.
“I’m not proud. I’m really sorry. But I didn’t target vulnerable people. I would never do that. I was desperate.”
Security officers eventually led Scarff away to the cells before the sentence could be fully read out.
Mr Bone apologised to the judge for the outburst on his client’s behalf.
Judge Owen-Jones said: “It’s understandable someone about to be sentenced becomes agitated.”