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Trickster jailed after swindling £18,000 from older man he contacted on dating site

The 23-year-old was arrested coming off a flight from Cuba

A Newry man has been jailed after conning thousands of pounds from seven people – including a single mum and a wealthy gay man.

Matthew Harvey, 23, of Bridge Street, was sentenced to 20 months at Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday.

The court heard how he swindled £25,000 from seven victims, including £18,000 from one man, between October 2016 and March this year.

That victim – a gay man in his 50s with a well paid job – was contacted by Harvey on a dating website. The money was handed over during the course of several months to Harvey.

Read more: Trial date set as two men deny causing Armagh teenager’s death

The prosecution told the court that Harvey extracted the money after telling the victim he needed to cover medical costs for his ill father and his mother’s funeral.

One of his victims was a single mother with dyslexia and an autistic child. Another included a young woman he met on the train.

A defence solicitor admitted that his client, who has a long history of mental illness, knew his actions were “despicable”, and he has issues with alcohol and gambling addiction.

When his criminality became apparent to police he was arrested coming off a flight from Cuba.

He admitted to multiple charges of fraud by false representation, as well as thefts.

Harvey will spend 10 months behind bars and a further 10 months on licence.

 

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