A man whose neighbour stole £9,000 from him died of a heart attack days after a court told the thief to pay back just £1 as she had no assets.
Francis Beck, 70, was found dead in his home in Northumberland Avenue, Stamford, on Thursday last week.
Mr Beck, known as Frankie, had lived in Stamford most of his life and was popular and well-loved.
Neighbour Wendy Steels, 38, of Northumberland Avenue, had been placed in control of his finances, but admitted in court stealing £9,147 from Mr Beck in June. She was given a six-month suspended jail sentence.
At a confiscation hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Monday last week a judge was told she had no assets that could be seized and so he ordered her to pay a nominal amount of £1.
Mr Beck had ended up in debt and was visited by bailiffs because of the theft.
His cousin Robin Boyall, who now lives with his wife Irene in Oakdale, Wales, rushed to Stamford last week after hearing the tragic news.
He said the court case had put Mr Beck under a lot of stress, adding: “I had a phonecall saying he was in a hell of a state. I told him it was nothing to worry about but he was panicking that he was in trouble.”
Mr Boyall paid tribute to his cousin, who he lived with in Sandringham Close, Stamford, for many years.
He said: “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He didn’t hurt anyone and never took advantage of anyone.
“Everyone we have spoken to is absolutely devastated.”
Mr Beck worked for the former Blackstones engineering firm for 30 years, before becoming a kitchen porter at The George Hotel.
He was in good health and his death came as a shock to those who knew him.
Mr Boyall said: “He had 10 good years left in him. He was as fit as a fiddle. He never smoked and he walked everywhere.
“He was looking forward to a long and happy retirement.”
Next-door-neighbour and friend of the family Pauline Balderson added: “No-one was expecting it.
“Frankie was a harmless, inoffensive fellow. He would do anything for anyone if he could.
“He used to come over to my house every day. I have known him for 32 years and he never missed a visit.
“He worked hard all his life and you couldn’t say a bad word about him.
“He will be missed because he was a likeable fellow.”