Crimewatch conman faces jail term

A HEARTLESS conman is today facing jail after duping three Felixstowe pensioners while the target of a nationwide manhunt.

A HEARTLESS conman is today facing jail after duping three Felixstowe pensioners while the target of a nationwide manhunt.

Mark Rhodes was finally captured at Ipswich railway station after being recognised by a bed and breakfast owner following an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch.

Rhodes, who preyed on the elderly and trusting, carried out the trio of Felixstowe distraction burglaries on the day of his arrest.

After pleading guilty to 21 offences throughout the country, the 23-year-old will now be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on June 24.

Before his arrest, Rhodes was wanted by 14 police forces across the country in connection with burglaries, thefts and deceptions.

Just hours before he was caught on May 1, Rhodes conned his way into a 64-year-old woman's home in Tomline Road, Felixstowe at 8.30am and stole a travel document wallet containing a passport.

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He then bluffed his way in to an 86-year-old woman's home in Stennett's Close, Trimley St Mary, between 9am and 9.30am.

After he left the pensioner discovered her purse, which had been in her handbag in the hallway, was missing.

The fraudster's final target was an 82-year-old woman in Cavendish Road, Trimley St Martin, where he went between 10am and 12.30pm. Rhodes stole �20 cash, her address book and a bank card.

He was arrested shortly afterwards. Police caught him after the owners of St Edmund's House - a bed and breakfast in Arwela Road, Felixstowe, where he was staying - recognised him in an appeal on Crimewatch the previous night.

Rhodes had left a trail of heartbreak across the country. He had conned parishioners and a minister out of money at a church in the Hull area. Rhodes had also allegedly stolen �150 in Devon from former Totnes mayor and magistrate Val Austin after he was said to have tricked his way into her home, claiming he had been sent by the town rector.

Rhodes, of no fixed abode, but formerly of Kintore in Aberdeenshire, was transferred to Gloucestershire after his arrest.

He admitted 12 charges of fraud by false representation and eight counts of burglary dwelling and theft when he appeared at Stroud Magistrates' Court. He also pleaded guilty to one charge of attempted fraud by false representation.

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