An undertaker who conned an elderly couple out of thousands of pounds has been given a suspended sentence.

Mark Kerbey, of Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, was convicted of one count of fraud by false representation after a trial.

Kerbey, 55, was handed a two-year sentence, suspended for two years, at Basildon Crown Court.

The jury also found him not guilty of two counts of fraud by false representation.

‘Broken promise’

Kerbey was previously sentenced to 54 months in prison for six fraud offences in 2012.

The court heard shortly after leaving prison in 2014 Kerbey promised an elderly couple he would plan their funeral.

He gave them his personal bank details rather than his employer’s for them to deposit £3,000.

Kerbey, who was previously known as Richard Sage, failed to deliver the funeral plan and spent the money instead, the court heard.

Recorder Philip Brook-Smith also imposed a six-month curfew from 20:00 BST to 06:00 BST and ordered Kerbey to pay £3,136 compensation and £3,500 costs, with a victim surcharge of £140.

Kerbey has “several serious life threatening conditions” and faces a “bleak” future because of coronary artery disease, the court was told.

Outside court earlier, he said: “I admit I had a bad track record, but people do change, you get older and you get wiser.”