A PENSIONER from Childer Thornton did not live to see the gang who stole thousands of pounds from her jailed.
Beatrice Price, 80, of Derwent Drive, died last month before the four men and one woman stood trial.
The gang took advantage of Mrs Price in 2009 when her mental state was failing and she was struggling to look after her own finances.
Visiting salesman Paul Williams, who stole £7,840 from Mrs Price, was part of a scam described by judge Nicholas Woodward as ‘heartless’.
They conned elderly victims in the area out of more than £600,000, targeting Mrs Price where she lived alone in a semi-detached bungalow.
Chester Crown Court heard the gang extracted most of its proceeds by tricking elderly victims into handing over their life savings for non-existent or unnecessary building work.
In each case, the defendants built a relationship of trust with the victim before using it either to commit fraud or theft.
Williams, 50, from Deverill Road, Tranmere, was jailed for 18 months.
Co-accused Mark Dodd, 50, of Booker Avenue, Liverpool, who was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud £445,000 following a trial, was jailed for five years.
Neil Jones, 38, of Dibbins Hey, Spital, Wirral and Kevin Sweeney, 37, of Lime Cottage, Druids Cross Road, Liverpool, who each admitted three counts of conspiracy to defraud £534,535, were jailed for four and four-and-a-half years respectively.
Sweeney’s wife Nicola, 38, pleaded guilty to money laundering £57,000, for which she received a 10-month suspended sentence.
The court heard the late Mrs Price was fleeced of £57,000 for minor repair work worth just £1,300.
While purporting to help Mrs Price with her banking, Jones was actually transferring additional funds into her current account, enabling the defendants to help themselves to as much money as they could identify.
Judge Woodward said the case had increased the strain on Mrs Price who had to move into a care home and died last month.
Sentencing the gang members, he told them: “You were ruthless in extracting every single penny you could obtain, despite the fact that you must have realised that you had cheated people out of what was their accumulated life savings.
“These were truly heartless offences and they left your victims both emotionally and financially bereft.”