Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 21:30 UK

Couple jailed for duping farmer

A still of David Cooper from a video tape
David Cooper lived in "degrading conditions" police said

A couple who preyed on a Dorset farmer, tricking him out of his £1m farm and forcing him to live in "degrading conditions", have been jailed.

Sonia Crabb, 33, and her boyfriend, Tony Junge, 31, sold their Somerset home in 2004 and moved into 51-year-old David Cooper's farm in Buckhorn Weston.

By the time he died in 2006, he had sold most of his assets to Crabb.

Crabb was jailed for 27 months and Junge was jailed for 24 months at Bournemouth Crown Court on Tuesday.

They had denied a charge of conspiracy to steal between 2004 and 2006, but were convicted by jurors at the end of a trial at Dorchester Crown Court in March.

They thought it was acceptable to leave him living in the most degrading conditions
Det Sgt Martin Jobe

Sentencing had been adjourned until Tuesday.

The trial heard how Junge, a car dealer, and unemployed mother-of-five Crabb targeted Mr Cooper, who was epileptic and schizophrenic and known to be open to exploitation.

The farmer - described in court as below average intelligence - later died on 5 November 2006, of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes.

He had about £130 in his bank accounts and was so malnourished he had symptoms of scurvy.

The court heard that after Crabb and Junge sold their house in Templecombe and moved in to the farm in 2004, Mr Cooper began to sell off plots of land, making more than £298,000 for about 100 acres (40.5 hectares).

Sonia Crabb and Tony Junge
Sonia Crabb and Tony Junge moved into the farm in 2004

He also withdrew more than £116,000 in cash, spent around £170,000 on Crabb, and transferred his £640,000 farmhouse and most of the remaining land into Crabb's name, leaving the rest to her in his will.

As the couple used £90,000 to redecorate the farmhouse, Mr Cooper lived in squalid conditions in a disused tack room next door.

The trial heard he had longed for a woman to move in and take care of him and some of his neighbours knew he was vulnerable.

Crabb and Junge spent some of the money on nursery schools for their children, a large LCD TV, a Rolex watch, two horses and paying off tens of thousands of pounds of credit card debts.

Det Sgt Martin Jobe said: "They thought it was acceptable to leave him living in the most degrading conditions whilst they lived a very comfortable life using his funds.

"Mr Cooper is sadly no longer with us but it is pleasing for his sake that this matter has been heard and the facts brought out."

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Couple convicted of duping farmer
13 Mar 09 |  Dorset

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