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Paper in scooter appeal after war veteran’s cash stolen

A weekly newspaper has launched an appeal to help a 97-year-old war veteran get a new mobility scooter after his savings were stolen.

Joseph Bourne had saved up £2,000 in his account towards the £2,500 needed to buy a new scooter after his last one broke but his neighbour conned him out of his savings.

Crack cocaine addict Michael Angelo Sagnibene, 39, was jailed in September for 20 months after a court was told he regularly visited Mr Bourne’s flat to steal his bank card and pin number to take small amounts of money from his account.

Mr Bourne, who was a prisoner of war between 1942 and 1945, was left with just £75 in his account after the crime, so the Sutton Guardian has launched an appeal asking readers to donate towards a new scooter.

Assistant editor Matt Watts said: “We got a strong reaction from our readers after we published the initial court story about Mr Sagnibene’s conviction for stealing from Mr Bourne. Readers contacted us to see how they could help or make a donation.

“Our reporter, James Pepper, spoke to Mr Bourne, who was overwhelmed by people’s concerns and agreed we could launch an appeal on his behalf.

“We have already received a number of donations, and even an offer to give Mr Bourne a scooter, as well as an offer from a mobility scooter manufacturer offering a scooter at cost price.”

The pensioner, who suffers from osteoporosis and is very hard of hearing, struggles to get out without a scooter so his quality of life has been reduced.

Mr Bourne said: “The old scooter is at the end of its life and a new one would give me a lot of freedom to get out and about. But they are so expensive I can’t afford it now.”

After the paper published a story about the crime in September, a number of readers contacted it offering donations, while some police officers involved with the case have already said they will contribute.

The newspaper is also planning a number of fundraising events.

The crime was discovered after Mr Bourne’s step son Ron Bartholomew and his carer Lynne Fretwell realised something suspicious was going on and alerted police.