A “DESPICABLE” fraudster befriended a Chester football coach dying from a brain tumour to con him into buying a new £12,500 kitchen.

Kevin Cairns, 45, even took Daniel Jones to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments in hospital after hearing he had received a substantial critical illness insurance payment.

Mr Jones and his wife Tara had their kitchen gutted a day before the new one was scheduled to be fitted in December 2014.

But the work was never carried out leaving the couple and their young children with an empty room and nowhere to store and prepare food.

“It seems he was just manoeuvring into position to separate Mr Jones from some of his money,” said prosecuting barrister Michael Whitty at Chester Crown Court on Monday, March 4.

Mr Jones sadly died in March the following year.

In a victim impact statement read out by Mr Whitty, Tara Jones said the family had been left feeling “utterly betrayed”.

“It was a time when we were most vulnerable as a family,” she said.

Kevin Cairns, who spent much of the hearing playing with his long hair, whistled as he was led from the dock to face a prison sentence of three years and four months.

Whitchurch Herald:

Kevin Cairns was described as a "despicable and terrible individual" by Judge Stephen Everett

At one point, Judge Stephen Everett halted proceedings when he spotted Cairns trying to talk to his wife and co-defendant Gillian Cairns, 46.

“I don’t detect any remorse from you at all,” he told Kevin Cairns. “You’ve been sitting there fancying yourself for the last 20 minutes.

“You are a truly despicable man.”

The court heard that the couple, who have been married for 18 years and have two teenage daughters, had gone on to con three more people together in 2016 and 2017 receiving around £20,000 for furniture or kitchen refits that they never provided.

The offences were committed while the couple were living in Burwardsley, Cheshire, Whitchurch in Shropshire, Wrexham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Gillian Cairns, who was not charged in relation to the scam on the Jones family, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years. She was said to have a lesser, more administrative role.

Both were banned from becoming the director of a company – Kevin Cairns for 10 years and Gillian Cairns for four.

Whitchurch Herald:

Gillian Cairns leaving Chester Crown Court after being sentenced

They had used different company names, including Handcrafted in England and Bartou & Mason, to offer bespoke furniture and kitchens.

In August 2016 a woman living in the USA paid £6,500 for a sofa and chairs which she never received. And in the same year Kevin Cairns received payment of £10,000 from a friend to refit a kitchen.

When the man began questioning when the work would take place in 2017, Kevin Cairns became abusive and threatening.

In 2016 another woman paid the Cairns couple £2,600 for a kitchen, which was never fitted.

The court heard that both defendants were convicted of fraud in 2017, for which they both received suspended prison sentences.

While Gillian Cairns had no other prior offences to her name, her husband has 14 convictions for 26 offences including violence and possession of cocaine.

Clare Ashcroft, defending Kevin Cairns, said he pleaded guilty to the frauds and had been a successful businessman until the 2008 financial crash left him “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

She said: “Mr Cairns’ primary consideration is for his wife and children to be as unaffected by these proceedings as possible.”

Dan Gaskell, defending Gillian Cairns, said she too had pleaded guilty and stressed she had a “lower culpability” role than her husband.

“She played an administrative role in this particular fraud,” he said.

Judge Everett accepted this saying the offence in relation to the Jones family was by far the most serious.

He described a victim impact statement read to the court by Daniel Jones’ mother as “heart-rending”.

In it she said: “We would like Mr and Mrs Cairns to consider how they would feel if their son was to suffer the indignity of dying from a brain tumour and leaving his wife, two small children and family behind while having £12,000-plus stolen from him.

“I’m now left feeling distressed every time I think about the impact this had on Dan and Tara at such a difficult time in our lives.”

Passing sentence, the judge told Kevin Cairns: “You befriended a terminally ill man. He had received a payment through his illness, and you wanted that money off him.

“I don’t know what on earth was going through your mind when you were taking him to hospital for treatment and pretending to be his friend. It was so callous. You strung him and his wife along.

“You have no remorse. I can see it now; you just don’t care. What a terrible individual you are.”

Addressing both defendants, he added: “Two con artists is what you are, nothing more and nothing less.”

As part of her suspended sentence, Gillian Cairns – who gave an address of Lesbury Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, must carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing will take place at a future date to decide on seizure of the couple’s assets.