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Richard Arnold jailed for two years for fraud

by Paul Hooper and Jack Dyson

An 86-year-old former soldier who made a plea on his death-bed to see the “b**tard” who defrauded him sent to jail, has finally been served justice.

William Howland was conned out of almost £1,000 by a staff member at Rough Common sub post office – a man he thought was his friend.

He was even ripped off after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in August 2016.

William Howland
William Howland

He died a year later at the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury.

Mr Howland had lived with his daughter in the city following his third stroke in just four years.

And it was his daughter who finally saw Richard Arnold, 53, of The Downings, in Herne Bay, jailed at Canterbury Crown Court for two years.

Arnold used his position to pocket £300 when Mr Howland would ask for a weekly withdrawal of £200 of his pension money.

And when police realised what Arnold was up to they discovered he had also pilfered £4,500 from his employer.

His daughter Kim Barker said: “Five days before he passed, when he was really ill and could barely speak, he looked over to me and said: ‘My love, promise me that you’ll see this b**tard go to prison.’

“It was one of the last things he said to me; he was really upset and angry that he had been taken for a fool.”

Kim Barker and her late father William Howland
Kim Barker and her late father William Howland

Determined to keep the promise, Ms Barker, a retired magistrate, put herself through the “upsetting” process of giving evidence at the trial after Arnold pleaded not guilty.

“My father wanted to go to court himself; he wanted to confront him,” she said.

“I wish he had been able to do that.”

Prior to his death, Mr Howland had made a statement to police describing the impact the crime had on him.

He wrote: “I have been in the army and have had three strokes. It is fair to say I have been through a bit.

“Since I have realised that someone I thought was nice and friendly, may be responsible for stealing the money, I have been having nightmares.

“I feel completely and utterly let down by this man and am so angry I can’t put it into words.”

Richard Arnold
Richard Arnold

Canterbury Crown Court heard how between September and December 2016 Arnold stole £950 from the pensioner.

And when it was reported to the police, he showed them numbers which he had written on a calendar in the sub office calculating how much he had pilfered.

Arnold had claimed he was helping a Nigerian woman who had gone to Cape Verde where the authorities had taken her passport and she needed between £7,000 and £8,000.

He denied fraud and theft in breach of trust but was convicted by magistrates and sent to crown court for sentencing.

Simon Taylor, defending, said Arnold had committed “this deplorable crime” after taking the wrong choice in helping his girlfriend.

Judge James O’Mahony told Arnold: “These offences were systematic, cynical and involved huge breaches of trust.

"You were reported to be offhand and grumpy to other customers but cheerful and pleasant to him, whilst ripping him off.

“You say you were sending this money to help a girlfriend in Cape Verde, there is no evidence of that other than your word and I don’t place much credit on that."

The court heard how Arnold had borrowed money from family members to repay the Post Office but the judge has ruled he has to pay Mr Howland’s estate £950 within six months of being released from jail.

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