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Kindness of neighbours rekindles pensioner's faith in humanity after con

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 24, 2013

Norman Cornish, pictured centre with his son Martyn and Martyn's partner Lorna Griffith, has been cheered up by the kindness of his neighbours

Norman Cornish, pictured centre with his son Martyn and Martyn's partner Lorna Griffith, has been cheered up by the kindness of his neighbours

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Christmas was looking bleak for Norman Cornish. He trusted a friend with his bank card and she repaid him by stealing £6,000 and landing him in debt.

But his faith in human nature has been restored after neighbours rallied round and dropped off a Christmas card – containing £1,000.

The 87-year-old's world fell apart when he discovered trusted friend Karen Whittaker, whose children call him grandad, had been taking cash from his account without his knowledge. Although the 43-year-old had helped the pensioner with his shopping once or twice, he admits his "downfall" came when it snowed at the start of the year and he couldn't get out to draw cash from the bank.

He asked Whittaker if she could be trusted with his debit card and pin number and she reassured him everything would be fine.

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Mr Cornish, a former doorman who lives in the Henbury area of Bristol, had no idea anything was amiss until he received a bank statement saying his account was overdrawn for the first time in his life. More than £6,000 had been taken out of his account in numerous cash withdrawals putting him £300 in the red.

It was then that he realised what had happened and Whittaker was arrested.

She pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court on December 11 to fraud by false representation and was sentenced to a one-year community order, to include 150 hours' unpaid work. She was told to pay back just £500 in compensation to Mr Cornish.

But Mr Cornish, who has lived alone since his wife Marion, who had Alzheimer's disease, died two years ago, has never received an apology, despite the fact Whittaker lives just across the road.

Mr Cornish's spirits were lifted when a neighbour, from nearby Clavell Road, dropped off a Christmas card. Mr Cornish said he nearly dropped to the floor when he opened the card to find £1,000 in £20 and £10 notes.

"I got the shock of my life," he said. "A young girl had knocked on my door and given me the card but I didn't open it until she left. I couldn't believe the neighbours had rallied round like this, and just before Christmas too."

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