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Victims were celebrating in Basildon Crown Court on Friday afternoon after fraudster Joshua Zimmer, 19, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for a string of ‘devastating and callous’ fraud offences – fifteen of his female victims were traced as part of the investigation, and they were all over 80 years old. Although he admitted that he had a ‘sexual attraction to geriatric women,’ Judge Justice Justin Judd QC ruled that his behaviour had been ‘inexcusable’ when his sentence was passed.
Southend News Network is now able to report the details of the trial after reporting restrictions were lifted, but none of his victims can be named for legal reasons. Zimmer was arrested in September 2015, and a laptop was immediately confiscated from his Eastmayne home that contained a series of images and saved conversations with his victims. According to police officers that handled the investigation, it is the first time that they had arrested an individual for impersonating someone who is more than 60 years older online, and the rest of the court sat in stunned silence while details of his offences unravelled in front of them.
One of the victims, Mary X (name changed), 85, told the court that she was incredibly excited when she first received a friend request from a gentleman called ‘Roger Duval’ on Late Late Late Love – one of the most popular senior citizen dating sites in the UK. The court heard how Zimmer had used an image of Des O’Connor as his profile pic, and Mary wasn’t suspicious at this point because of her poor eyesight due to waiting for a glaucoma operation. She described how Zimmer had lied about his age and creaking joints, before sending box after box of lemon puffs to her home address in Pitsea. The online relationship ended when she came home one day from her lunchtime bingo club to find Zimmer in her bedroom trying out her spare pair of false teeth and walking around in her surgical stockings. He allegedly fled the scene before police arrived.
Zimmer was finally arrested after a tip-off was received from the owners of Greytube, an online video streaming service that specialises in adult material involving the over 75’s. According to a witness statement, Zimmer submitted video requests to the site’s management that became ‘more and more depraved’ over a three-week period, and the alarm was raised when he asked for a clip of ‘a senior citizen performing an indecent act with a tube of Poligrip.’ Shortly after his arrest, a detective confirmed that a third of the videos found on his laptop were considered as ‘illegal’ within the European Union.
Speaking outside of court, a detective confirmed: ‘We are delighted with the sentence that has been passed in this case, and we would advise all senior citizens using online dating sites to be vigilant for other known gerontophiles who are operating online. It may not be lemon puffs next time – reports of custard creams and morning milk biscuits are becoming more and more common.’
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