Artist helps police catch suspected conman by drawing his own EFIT


Retired art teacher Tom McGrath sketched the pencil drawing soon after he had handed over £30 to a man who offered to clear his gutters at his home in Chorlton, Manchester.

Mr McGrath, 70, quickly realised he had been the victim of a scam and posted his drawing on a local residents’ Facebook community page to warn neighbours not to fall for the same trick.

He was stunned when police contacted him to say they had recognised the offender from the sketch in the local newspaper and had tracked him down.

Mr McGrath told how he handed over £30 to a friendly caller who called himself David and said he would clear the gutters back in February.

The caller returned the same evening with a complex story about a broken key and persuaded Mr McGrath to hand over a further £10 before disappearing without trace or any further contact.

Mr McGrath realised that he had fallen for “an obvious con trick” and sketched his e fit in pencil on a notepad before posting it on the Chorlton Facebook Group page.

Months later he was surprised when police turned up to say that the bogus workman with an unhealthy pallor had been traced thanks to the pencil sketch.

They offered Mr McGrath “restorative justice” – a scheme where the offender comes face to face with his victim.

The former teacher at a high school in Gorton, Manchester said: ”The police came to see me last week as a result of the newspaper article because I didn’t actually report it to them at the time.

“I showed the officers the picture and they both nodded because they knew him.”

The Facebook post was headed “Conman Alert” and said: ”It’s easy to say now that this was an obvious con trick but, hey, I fell for it. He promised to return the next day and I’m still waiting.”

Greater Manchester Police say a suspect has been identified in relation to the incident and an investigation is under way.

Police are also investigating the possibility that the suspect targeted another two elderly residents in similar incidents.

A spokesman for the force said:”We have identified an offender in relation to the incident involving Tom McGrath. The investigation is still ongoing.”

When Mr McGrath posted details of the incident on Facebook he was inundated with compliments about his artwork.

And the attention prompted him to find a studio in the city centre which he opened up to the public for the first time this weekend, showing off 25 years worth of his art.

He said: ”A number of people contacted me asking about my paintings. 

“I had hundreds of paintings hidden away in my attic and cellars. In February I moved most of them into a studio. 

“The hoard has remained hidden for 25 years.”