Casey Bowen's Cheltenham burglary victim speaks out
PARISHIONERS have been rallying to help an elderly member of their congregation after she was burgled by a conman who stole heirlooms from her Cheltenham home.
Casey Bowen, the 33-year-old who was dubbed "pocket money boy" when he was 14, has been jailed for three years after duping 81-year-old Suzanne Merrell from St Paul's.
She said she felt foolish after believing him when he said he had come to help clear rubbish from her garden and then for letting him use her car to take unwanted items to the tip.
Now, her local vicar is offering the church's longest serving member support by making sure her locks are working properly and that her car and contents insurance are dealt with accordingly.
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Miss Merrell said: "The man just came up the garden path and said that he would take away my rubbish.
"I was very pleased and I went inside the house to get my purse to give him some money and he followed me in.
"I can't remember what I was doing, but he stayed in the house and was helping himself to what he wanted.
"He took a lot of family heirlooms including a clock that my sister was very fond of. I was very cross about that.
"It made me fell very sick at that point.
"I didn't realise what he had done. I only noticed that everything had gone the following morning."
Bowen was paid £60-a-week by the Government to behave when he was a teen.
Among the items stolen, he also took a cup featuring the portrait of the former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Suzanne said: "Unless he was a fan of Mrs Thatcher, I don't know why he took it. Most of it was very valuable, some of it was from the mid-Victorian era or even earlier.
"I don't know how much they would be worth, but because they are old I would have though they were worth something."
Members of St Paul's Church, located near her lifelong home in St Paul's Street North, have been helping her clear out rubbish and give her support.
She said: "He was a professional – very polite and seemed most helpful. I didn't tell the vicar at the church at first, which I got a bit of telling off for. I felt stupid and thought it was my fault but I was told that it wasn't and that it was the fault of an evil man."
The Reverend Roger Widdecombe said it was the church's responsibility to care for members of the community.
He said: "The church is a community and we look out for each other. So, when something like this happens, we are always on hand to help as much as we can.
"We are obviously devastated when something like this happens but it is not out of the ordinary for us to care for Sue.
We care for each other through the rough times and then celebrate with those through the good times."