FIVE men from an extended family – described by a judge as an “embarrassment” to the people of Herefordshire – have escaped heavy jail sentences for their roles in scamming an elderly woman out of more than £30,000.

Only two of them received any time in jail – one for two years and the other for nine months – while the rest got suspended prison sentences.

Worcester Crown Court had heard that their 84-year-old victim from Kington – who had been duped into handing over more than £30,000 over four months in 2013 – had been left “traumatised and ashamed” by what had happened to her.

She had been convinced by callers that jobs needed doing to her home – but she was invoiced for “fictional work” and handed over money, either at home or in Leominster, where she banked.

Danny Warner, aged 46, of Cheaton Close, Leominster, Kieran Tisdale, 25, of Barrie Road, Green Lanes, Hereford, and Joseph Carter, 29, of Addison Court, Moorfields, Hereford, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Shane Warner, 23, of Abbey Foregate Road, Shrewsbury, and Steven Lock, 22, of Turnpike Caravan Site, Pembridge, both admitted an alternative charge of entering into, or the acquisition and retention of, stolen or criminal property, described in court as “money laundering”.

Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC said: “To anyone living in Herefordshire, it’s something of an embarrassment that we have within our midst a group of men such as these five defendants and their extended family, who to a greater or lesser extent were involved over a four-and-a-half-month period in obtaining by deception over £30,000 from a vulnerable, elderly woman.”

But he added he had to follow sentencing guidelines and also took into account that they had pleaded guilty and that others – who were not in court – had been involved.

The judge dealt the lengthiest sentence – two years jail - to Carter, who had admitted taking a total of more than £10,000 from the woman on 13 separate dates and who had a previous conviction for charging an elderly person for work through false representation.

Shane Warner, who made phone calls to the woman over a 10-day period and had previous convictions involving elderly victims, was given nine months prison, to run from May next year, at the end of a current sentence he is serving.

Danny Warner, whose role had been to impersonate Leominster solicitor Philip Cornell in a phone call asking the victim for money – and whose previous offences included blackmailing an elderly man, swindling him out of £30,000 – was given a 12-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work in the community.

Lock was given 12 months suspended for two years with six months supervision by the probation service and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.

Ex-soldier Tisdale, who had received £1,000 from the victim on two occasions and had previously burgled an elderly person, was given 12 months suspended for two years, ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and given 20 days of rehabilitation activity. He was also put under supervision for a year.

Charles Crinion, prosecuting, had told the court that the men’s victim made a total of 28 payments to the scammers.

There were thought to be others involved, possibly from the same family, although there was not enough evidence to bring them to court.

Due to the frequency of withdrawals by the woman, a member of staff from her building society contacted police and in January 2014 officers went to her home.

While they were there, she received a phone call, placed in Bromyard, from someone saying he was “John Wood”, chasing her for money.

He then called again from a phone box outside Leominster train station, which police were watching, and they caught Danny Warner with the phone to his ear.

The woman’s son had confirmed that no work had been carried out at her home and a trading standards officer, who carried out a detailed examination of the property, reached the same conclusion.

Ali Dewji, defending Danny Warner, said his client had gained no money from the crime and his only involvement was making one phone call.

Raglan Ashton, representing Danny Warner’s brother Shane, said he had been unaware of the harm caused to the victim.

Judith Kenney, defending Carter, said: “He’s not the instigator – he is not the brains behind it.”

Nicholas Smith, for Lock, said his client had two young children, was in a stable relationship and hope to go to college to study agriculture.

Robert Duval (correct), for Tisdale, said his client, who was now a stonemason, had “very limited understanding of the extent of the conspiracy and was the father of a three-year-old daughter.

All were slapped with a criminal behaviour order banning them from unsolicited visits to any residential property to carry out business for seven years.