Serial con artist jailed

One victim of a serial con artist who ripped off more than 60 big-hearted Cantabrians walked two hours to court today just to watch "the bloody crook" go to jail.

Kim Barwell, 47, used a well-rehearsed petrol scam where he would pose as a farmer who had run out of petrol.

The caregiver would ask them for petrol money so he could get home, promising to pay them back straight away, and even offering them free meat from his non-existent Canterbury farm.

He targeted dozens of people, often elderly shoppers, in his scam which pocketed him more than $5000.

But today at Christchurch District Court he was sent to prison for 16 months on 65 charges of causing people a loss by deception and for three theft charges, including when he stole a Salvation Army donation money box.

"I'm happy he's gone to jail," said Alan Strez, a 70-year old pensioner, conned out of $140 by Barwell at Barrington Mall last year.

Mr Strez was in a supermarket when he recommended a brand of soup as being particularly tasty to Barwell, who then repaid the favour by ripping him off.

"I walked outside the shop and here he was parked by a big, black car, which he said was a ministerial car," the victim recalled outside court today.

"He said he'd run out of petrol and asked for $40 to get home.

"He also needed $40 to pay the tow truck and another $60 to pay for his groceries.

"And okay, I was gullible and I paid it.

"I'll think again before helping anyone else out, that's for sure."

But Mr Strez, who confronted Barwell three times to try to get his cash back after discovering his address, can take comfort in that he wasn't the only one taken in.

Barwell, who lives in Hornby, admitted trying the well-known scam 65 times.

The sums he got away with varied from $8 to $380.

Police last year warned of a man posing as a Hororata farmer who approached shoppers in mall car parks asking for money so he could fill his car with petrol and drive home.

He was soon caught, but after more media publicity, more victims came forward to police saying they had also been taken in by Barwell.

Some of his offending had been on bail, the court heard.

Judge Noel Walsh today sentenced Barwell to 16 months in jail, with six months of release conditions.

He also ordered him to pay $5080 back to his victims on his release.

 

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