November 19, 2005.
Two men were cleared yesterday of defrauding a partially sighted pensioner out of a house she owned by asking her to sign for a package on her doorstep.
David Graves, 39, bought the house for £5,000 and sold it to developers within weeks for £110,000. He said he spent most of the profit on paying off his mortgage, buying a BMW and giving his ex-girlfriend £5,000 for breast enhancement surgery.
The prosecution claimed that Graves's friend, Richard Skidmore, 35, delivered an envelope containing chocolates to Ambrosine St Clair Fretwell, 87.
Underneath the package was a folded Land Registry document and Mrs Fretwell, who is registered blind, said she thought that she was signing for a parcel.
Graves and Skidmore, both from Rotherham, denied conspiracy to defraud. Graves also denied transferring criminal property. Both were cleared after a nine-day trial.
Mrs Fretwell bought the detached house at Swinton, South Yorks, for £42,500 in 1990. She told the court it was "impossible" that she could have signed away the title deeds.
Graves claimed that Mrs Fretwell had "gifted" him the house because she did not want her son to have it.
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