A MAN was left believing his baby grandson had died after the child’s mother lied to him to con him out hundreds of pounds.

The baby boy was actually alive and well and had been taken in by social services, but his grandfather still believed him to be in the care of his mother.

Karen Birchall, aged 41, sent a series of false text messages to Francis Masserick, the adoptive father of her then-partner, Thomas Masserick.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Birchall was addicted to class A drugs and managed to dupe Mr Masserick out of £485 he believed was for taxis, trains and Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

David Toal, prosecuting, told the court the baby was born in February, 2016 and following concerns over domestic violence, social services became involved.

In October, 2016 officers raided Birchall’s home, in Hartington Road, off Chorley New Road, Bolton, over an unrelated matter and found drugs and weapons. The baby was taken into foster care and then adopted.

On June 3, 2016, Mr Masserick received a text from Birchall saying the baby had been taken to hospital because he was having trouble breathing and they needed money.

Francis Masserick transferred £65 into his son’s bank account and later that day received another text saying the baby had been transferred to the ICU in Manchester and more money was transferred for taxis and a B&B.

The following day she texted him again, saying doctors were investigating if the baby had heart problems and again needed money for taxis and a B&B. Then Francis Masserick transferred another £100 into the bank account.

In one text Birchall said: “I can’t believe this is happening. It is so unexpected. Nature is so cruel to the ones you love.”

On June 5 during a phone call she told Mr Masserick the baby had died and was said to have ‘sounded distraught’.

More money was transferred that day and on June 6 after Birchall told him they needed money for taxis and trains to Fleetwood to go and see her brother.

Mr Masserick texted his son’s solicitor informing him of the death, but the solicitor phoned back to say a social worker had seen the baby that day and he was alive and well.

In a victim personal statement, Mr Masserick said: “It was particularly hurtful and powerful for me because I have previously lost a child in a road traffic accident.

“This has brought back strong memories like I was grieving again, which I was because I believed my grandson had died.”

Duncan Phillips, defending Birchall, described the events as ‘despicable’ but said she was in an abusive relationship at the time with Thomas Masserick.

Judge Graeme Smith described what Birchall had done as cruel. He said: “It is difficult to image the pain of being told your grandson has died and then that everything leading up to it was a complete pack of lies.”

Birchall was jailed for 30 weeks for fraud and four weeks for breaching bail after failing to appear in court last year.