A MAN who helped his former partner in her attempts to defraud a generous and vulnerable man has been jailed.

Colin Pemberton and Chantel Gibson, both of High Street in Ruabon, appeared before Mold Crown Court on Monday.

At a previous hearing Gibson, 26, had already admitted a number of fraud offences which took place in 2016 and Pemberton, 37, had admitted to aiding and abetting her.

The court heard how Gibson had befriended and defrauded Wrexham resident and former wine bar owner Nicholas Churton - who was murdered at the age of 67 in his Crescent Close home the following year.

Over the course of three months in 2016, Gibson stole about £17,500 from Mr Churton's savings account, as well as racking up overdraft costs of almost £8,500 in his name.

She also spent £785 of his money via a number of betting accounts she set up in his name.

Gibson had been transferring Mr Churton's savings into other accounts before withdrawing and spending it, the court heard.

When he realised and contacted his bank, Nationwide, the savings account was frozen.

It was at this point that Gibson's then partner, Colin Pemberton, got involved.

He called Nationwide on 13 occasions, impersonating Mr Churton, in an attempt to unfreeze the account.

Myles Wilson, prosecuting, told the court Pemberton provided the victim's personal information to get through security measures and had even made some of the calls on Mr Churton's phone.

Mr Wilson told the court Nicholas Churton had been "cleaned out" and that the fraud would have had a considerable detrimental impact on him.

He said: "The prosecution says Mr Churton was a vulnerable man.

"These offences took place in 2016 but were discovered after his murder in 2017.

"He was clearly a generous man and had allowed homeless drug users to stay with him. "His friends were concerned he was being taken advantage of by visitors to his flat and the two defendants were such visitors."

Defending Gibson, Phillip Clemo told the court: "She was friends with Mr Churton.

"Mr Churton was a man who was generous of spirit and was aware she was in housing difficulties.

"Initially he had given her some money and after that she had the details of his account and used them.

"She took advantage of that generosity. "She is a gambling addict and like so many addicts before her she got herself into the position of thinking that one big win would solve all her problems. Of course, it didn't."

Mr Clemo told the court there were concerns over the welfare of Gibson's four young children in the event that she was given a custodial sentence.

He said she'd "turned a corner" and is a dedicated parent who takes the education of her children seriously.

Philip Tully, defending Pemberton, said there was "no doubt that the theft of money from Mr Churton was a cruel offence".

The dad-of-four's involvement would have been based on some degree of misguided loyalty to his then partner, he added.

"He accepts that what he did was wrong," Mr Tully said.

Gibson had also pleaded guilty to a separate fraud offence in which she told her bank, Halifax, that her cards had been stolen and used in 2016.

Judge Nicola Jones described the offences as "nasty and mean".

She said: "He was a very vulnerable man of great generosity, welcoming people into his home.

"You took advantage of his kind nature."

The judge took into account the impact a custodial sentence could have on Gibson's children, and said she felt she would be capable of rehabilitative work.

She sentenced Gibson to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended it for 18 months.

Gibson must undertake a ten day rehabilitation activity requirement, as well as 250 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing Pemberton, Judge Jones said: "I acknowledge you had a smaller role to play, but you clearly knew about these offences."

Because of a number of aggravating features - including four previous convictions for theft, the offence being committed towards the end of an existing suspended sentence and Pemberton having "minimised" his role in the incidents - Judge Jones jailed him for 16 months.

He will serve half in prison and half on license.

The judge said she did not feel it would be appropriate to impose heavy financial penalties or compensation orders.