An Ashburton man who "weaved a web of lies and deceit" in conning two woman out of more than $1500 was jailed for nine months at Christchurch District Court this afternoon.
Paul William Abbott, 33, had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining by deception, the latest crimes in an offending history encompassing 44 previous convictions, most of which were for dishonesty.
In March this year Abbott had started living with a woman he met online. The woman was unemployed, but had some money in her bank account because of leftover holiday pay.
Abbott told the woman that he needed $250 for an outstanding gang-debt his girlfriend owed. He said that he couldn't earn the money himself, as the gang members were likely to target him at his place of work.
Later the same month he was given $160, after telling the victim that he needed the money to buy medication, which was treatment for his brain tumour.
One of his victims also gave him money after he said that he'd lost his wallet and cellphone. He also convinced one of the victims to part with cash he said was a donation to the family of his friend, who had died from blood poisoning.
Judge Allan Roberts told Abbott that "I suspect you would have difficulty lying straight in bed ... in every sense of the word you are a con man."
The judge said that Abbott had "selected both victims, and the course you followed had you focusing on vulnerable and impressionable women."
"The money you fleeced from these women meant a lot to both of them."
Lawyer David Stringer told the judge that Abbott had recently begun working on a vegetable farm for the first time in 10 years.
"He has seemingly of his own volition dealt with his drug problem which was clearly behind his offending."
Mr Stringer said Abbott's new partner was also in court to support him. However, the judge was unimpressed
"That's the third partner I see in six months, I can't place any stock in any relationship this man forms, he's an-out-and-out con man."
The lawyer argued that the relationship the defendant had had with the two victims had both been "very short-lived", and that his most recent relationship had lasted for six months.
However the judge didn't agree with his assertion. "Three women in three months is a lot more than most men," he said.
One of Abbott's victims struggled not to break down in tears as she told the court how the offending had "devastated me and my daughter both financially and emotionally".
She said that she had nearly lost her house after getting behind on her rent, because of the money she had given Abbott. She said her daughter was now in counselling, trying to recover from the affair.
"I could not afford to feed my daughter or pay my bills", she said. She felt "so much hate and anger and stress associated with his actions".
The judge said that an address put forward by Abbott to be assessed to see if it was suitable for a community based sentence, did not meet with Corrections requirements.
However because Abbott had disagreed with Corrections about the suitability of the address, he had told them that "if I go to prison, I will come out a monster".
The judge didn't agree with Abbott's assertion.
"Wrong, that will be your choice and your fault ... you did the crime Abbott, you have got no one to blame but yourself."
The judge considered that if Abbott went to jail he would not be able to generate income to pay back his victims.
However he said that a sentence of home detention was "not appropriate".
"I do not consider there is any prospect of reinstatement for your victims. I am also concerned about your integrity. I do not have you as an honest man at all."