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A 78-year-old widow was duped into paying her cheque directly to Towart.

The woman had the boiler in her three-bedroom semi in Ashington replaced and bought a new fireplace from the firm, with the work done on March 11, 2005.

Towart told the pensioner she was about to go to lunch and would collect the balance of pounds 1,979.87 from her home address to save her coming to the shop.

Another customer, a man who lives at Newbiggin, bought a fire and surround from Nu Heat's shop.

He paid a bill of pounds 1,844.39 at the shop using a cheque from his building society made out apart from the payee. Towart said if he left it blank she would sort it out and gave him a receipt.

It was later found the cheque had been paid into Towart's bank account but the invoice book at Nu Heat had been endorsed, stating the bill had been paid.

Another customer told how Towart told him to leave the payee section of a pounds 2,812.43 cheque blank because she had a stamp.

After the bank discovered the suspicious cheques, the Towarts were arrested by detectives in Ashington on August 4.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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