An elderly woman was saving money for hearing aids but instead lent $5000 to a "friend".

Another woman with dementia felt heartache for the man she loved who had suffered "hardship". She poured large amounts of dollars into his account to help him through his pain.

An 88-year-old woman who had recently lost her husband and was looking after her 85-year-old sister gave a man she loved nearly everything she had.

Today these three Whanganui woman may now get closure after the man who conned them emotionally and financially was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and ordered to pay reparation.


Two months ago, on June 15, William Harding pleaded guilty to four charges, three for deception and one for skipping town last year.

Today at the Whanganui District Court Judge Philip Crayton called Harding an arch manipulator with an excessive history of fraud and elderly abuse.

"You lied time and time again. You had no brother who passed away in the Christchurch earthquake. You had no inheritance to make repayments. You had no property that needed shipping," Judge Crayton said.

The 78 year-old man had fraud charges against vulnerable woman dating back to 1972.

Defence lawyer, Stephen Ross, said Harding had served time for those offences and has shown gaps where he has not offended.

"He has written letters to each of the victims to show his remorse," Mr Ross said.

But Judge Crayton said Harding showed no remorse.

"Your probation officer said you lacked empathy for the were clearly centred on yourself rather than the victims.

"You invaded your way into the victim's life, you were looked upon as a life partner and you abused that trust," Judge Crayton said.

A daughter of one of the victims said her mother got engaged to Harding and he moved into the family home in 2015.

"He became a big part of our lives. My teenage children saw him as a granddad figure, he has had a massive impact on our lives."

Harding had purchased a house with the woman and the day the deposit was due he left, leaving his fiancées name of the sales and purchase agreement.

"He told us he was going to the dairy and never returned."

Despite having no money to buy another house, she was talked into co-signing the contract with Harding.

The family was forced to pay almost $8000 to the vendors and in lawyers' fees.

In one victim impact statement, a granddaughter of one of the woman said Harding should be locked up for good.

"He should never be released because I feel he would not hesitate to prey on more vulnerable woman. He makes me sick to my stomach."

Judge Philip Crayton said the court needed to protect the community, particularly the vulnerable.