Campaign to get Beddington war hero a scooter after he was conned by crack-addict
The Sutton Guardian is today launching an appeal to help a 97-year-old war veteran get a new mobility scooter after a crack head con man stole his £2,000 savings from him.
Joseph Bourne, a prisoner of war between 1942 and 1945, was befriended by his cold and calculating neighbour Michael Angelo Sagnibene who immediately plotted to rob him of everything he had.
Crack cocaine addict Sagnibene would regularly visit the war hero after learning where he kept his bank card and pin number, steal them, and take small amounts of money from his account.
When police searched his home they found a duplicate key which Sagnibene used to get into Mr Bourne's flat whilst he slept.
Mr Bourne, who suffers from osteoporosis and is very hard of hearing, was saving up for a new mobility scooter after his last one broke.
He had nearly £2,000 in his account saved - only £500 short of what he needed - but Sagnibene's shocking abuse of trust left him with only £75.
Sagnibene, 39, was jailed for 20 months in September for his crime, but Mr Bourne is still without his savings.
The Sutton Guardian is launching an appeal to ask readers if they would like to make a donation towards getting Mr Bourne a new scooter.
Without a scooter, Mr Bourne struggles to get out, even to visit his local cafe, and his quality of life has been greatly reduced.
A number of readers contacted the newspaper offering donations after we first published the story last month, while police officers affected by the story have already signalled their intention to donate to the appeal.
The Sutton Guardian is also planning a number of fundraising events.
Mr Bourne's step son Ron Bartholamew said he could not believe what had happened to his father and how he had been treated.
He said: "He (Sagnibene) was very cunning. He seemed like a very affable man and dad spoke very highly of him.
"Who would think somebody who came across so well could be capable of stealing from such a vulnerable old man."
Thankfully Mr Bartholomew and his carer Lynne Fretwell realised something suspicious was going on and alerted police, whom Mr Bartholomew praised for their efforts.
When he was asked what difference a new mobility scooter would make to his life, Mr Bourne, said: "The old scooter is at the end of its life and a new one would give me a lot of freedom to get out and about. But they are so expensive I can't afford it now."
If you would like to help the appeal, write a cheque made payable to Newsquest and post it to Sean Duggan, group editor, c/o Joseph's mobility scooter appeal, at Floor 10, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, SM2 5AS. Alternatively, cash donations can be made in person at the above address.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Bourne served his country as a driver of a bren gun carrier in the deserts of North Africa with the Royal Ordnance Corps and Royal Signals.
In June 1942, along with 25,000 Allied troops, Joseph was captured by Erwin Rommel's armies in El Alamein. Mr Bourne said: "I met Rommel after we were captured, he spoke very good English. He said to us "Good fight lads. I'm afraid you are lions being led by donkeys."
After three years living on soup as a prisoner of war and watching his best friend die of starvation in front of him, Mr Bourne was freed by the advancing Allied armies in 1945.
His weight had fallen from more than ten stone to just six. He was awarded the Africa Star and other serving medals.