A serial conman who swindled more than £17,000 out of single women he met on dating websites has been jailed for nearly three years.
David Brice, 43, targeted ”vulnerable and lonely” women across Britain before gaining their trust and taking their money through deception and theft.
The unemployed tyre fitter would then abandon his victims – often vanishing during the middle of a date.
Brice pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud and six of theft and cried in the dock at Bristol Crown Court as he was sentenced yesterday.
Judge Michael Roach told him: ”I have no doubt at all that between December 2008 and February 2010 you targeted women who by the circumstances of their own lives were plainly vulnerable.
”I have no doubt at all that you targeted them deliberately. You treated them by and large with enormous callousness.
”These are unpleasant offences and in my judgement they can only deserve a prison sentence.
”You have presented yourself to me in tears when this case was called on. I have regard for remorse. I have more regard for the victims suffered by the hands of you.”
The court heard how Brice, of Fishponds, Bristol, took a total of £17,362.08 from 12 women he met on internet dating sites smooch.com and plentyoffish.com between December 2008 and February 2010.
He would call himself ”Mr Cheerful” online and arrange to meet up with his targets in either their home towns or in Bristol.
Brice would start his con routine by claiming he was broke and ask his victims to pay for everything during their meetings – including food, hotels, petrol and even his mobile phone credit.
He would ”charm” them and put them at ease before persuading them to lend him sums of money on the promise that he would repay it.
Several of his victims were then callously abandoned on the street after they lended him the money.
One victim, known to the court only as ”Miss Burgess”, travelled from Manchester to Bristol to meet Brice before he asked her to lend him £410 to repay someone he owed.
After she handed over the cash he pulled up outside a random house and told her they were getting out – but once she was on the pavement he sped away and adandoned her.
Because of her weight, the 30-stone victim could not get to the police station and ended up having to call an ambulance.
He abandoned another victim, a Mary Keemer from Portsmouth, in a similar way – vanishing as she walked slightly ahead of him in a shopping mall after lending him £373.99 to buy a laptop.
When she searched for him she discovered he had taken his car from the car park.
Later she returned to her home to discover that he had stolen another £640 in cash from her bedroom while she had been in the toilet.
The court heard the incident had left her so upset she was ”depressed and suicidal”.
Using a fake name Brice convinced Anne Trotter, who he had also met online, to lend him £2,000 and promised to write an agreement saying he would pay her back in six weeks.
But when she later rang his phone number someone answered saying, ”Who is this please? My name is Sam, I got this phone from someone who changed my car tyres.”
James Ward, prosecuting, said: ”David Brice is a professional conman who intentionally targeted and prayed on single women to ensure that he sucked out of them their wealth for his own benefit.
”He searched for women who were vulnerable and lonely then engaged in conversation with them and gained their trust.
”He then meets these respective women and then disappears as such so he can’t be found.
”This is pre-planned, it is pre-meditated, with the aim of targeting single, vulnerable women.”
The court heard how Brice also stole a laptop, a SIM card and two bank cards from the women, and that he has 39 previous convictions for dishonesty, theft, forgery and driving offences.
Speaking after the hearing victim Wendy Weids, 50, told how Brice left her in the snow on a street corner after she’d lent him £300 and given him another £3,500 to purchase a car.
The housing officer from Swindon said: ”I got out of the car to help him get into a parking space and he effectively dumped me there.
”I felt stupid to have been taken in by him. It was the flattery, the fact that he’s a charmer. But he’s an out and out bloody liar.”
Brice was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the fraud and theft charges, plus another 24 weeks for driving while disqualified and breaching a community order.