“Wicked” South Shields man who headed up a gang posing as detectives has appeal thrown out of court

Paul Mark Momat
Paul Mark Momat

A gang leader who claimed to be police officers as they tricked pensioners out of their savings has had the appeal against his sentence dismissed.

And to punish Paul Mark Momat, 28, for even trying to mount his “hopeless” case, top judges in London effectively increased his prison term.

These are offences of the greatest seriousness.

Judge Openshaw

Momat, of Ferry Approach in South Shields, was jailed for six years in December for burglary and theft plots.

However, the sentence was ordered to run consecutively to terms already being served for conspiracy to rob and a breach of the Prison Act.

Appealing to senior judges in London, he today claimed that the total sentence - 14 years and four months - was excessive.

But Mr Justice Openshaw delivered a double blow when, after dismissing the case, he ordered three months already served not to count towards Momat’s term.

Giving judgment, he said Momat had wasted the Court of Appeal’s time by putting forward a case which could only fail.

The court heard Momat was the organiser of a gang which preyed on the elderly and vulnerable in 2012 and 2013.

Three others were also jailed for their part in the plot.

Typically, groups of men would turn up at houses - in Gateshead and Newcastle - and claim to be police officers.

Fake warrants would be shown and searches of the householders’ homes conducted.

In one case, they left with the female occupant’s £25,000 life savings.

Other would-be victims realised they were being scammed and refused to let the men in.

However, in another incident, a man was lured from Scotland to buy car parts, but met by fake cops who took his van, phone and £7,500.

Lawyers for Momat today argued that the six-year term, on top of more than eight years already being served, was too long.

But Mr Justice Openshaw, sitting today with Lady Justice Sharp and Mrs Justice Simler, disagreed.

“These are offences of the greatest seriousness,” he said.

“The judge was right to identify the many aggravating features: the planning; the targeting of aged, disabled and vulnerable householders; the pretence that the burglars were police officers; the money taken; and the effect upon the victims.

“In all this, Momat was the organiser. These wicked offences required condign punishment.”

The effect of the loss of time order made by the judges will be that Momat will spend three months more in prison than he would otherwise have done.