A JUDGE branded a drug-addict conman "wicked" as he jailed him for befriending an elderly dementia sufferer before stripping cash from his bank account.

Lee Dunn first pretended to be the pensioner's window cleaner and repeatedly called at his Stockton home to collect £3 for work he had never done.

Over the weeks, the 29-year-old let himself into his victim's home, had cups of tea made for him - then stole his bank card and PIN number from his wallet.

Dunn took a total of £580 from the man's account and made further unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money, Teesside Crown Court was told.

When he was arrested, the convicted burglar claimed he had inadvertently picked up the bank card and a piece of paper with the security number on.

Both the victim and his carer said the items were always kept in his wallet and Dunn finally confessed. He said: "He had five grand but I only took £600."

In an impact statement, the 79-year-old said: "I feel angry to have been taken for a fool in this way . . . I trusted him and he took advantage of me."

The judge, Recorder Christopher Knox, said: "It was sussing him out and then conning him . . . it is the most wicked exploitation of an elderly person.

"You took advantage of him because you thought he would either not notice or would not be able to give a coherent account and you would get away with it."

Dunn, of Durham Road, Stockton, was jailed for four years after he admitted charges of burglary, theft and fraud.

His lawyer, Garry Wood, told the court: "He has shown some remorse. He tells me he realised he had made a terrible mistake and took the bank card back."

The court heard how Dunn was jailed in 2006, 2009 and 2011 for burglaries, and has a record containing 29 offences - mostly for dishonesty.

In 2011, he went to an elderly woman's home, pretended to be from the council checking boilers, and stole her bank cards and cash. He got 52 months.

Mr Recorder Knox said: "These courts, when they come to deal with people who have done what you have done twice, begin to look at sentences way outside the guidelines. This was serious, nasty offending."