A financial adviser who conned elderly women out of thousands of pounds of their life savings has been jailed.

John Meredith got his victims to hand over the cash after telling them a sob story about his money problems when he lost his job.

But the father-of-three, who has no previous convictions, was motivated by greed. He lived in a large detached house in Eastbourne and had land in the USA which he sold to buy a flat in Portugal.

Meredith, 44, of Willingdon Road, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he admitted four offences of obtaining money transfers by deception relating to three women age 91, 85 and 83.

He visited them at their homes when they were alone and persuaded them to hand over more than £60,000 before persuading them to sign letters saying they were gifts.

After he confided in a former colleague he was arrested in January last year. He told police the money had been given to him as loans and he intended to pay it back.

Meredith showed no emotion as he was led from the dock at Lewes Crown Court to the cells but his tearful wife, Maria, 42, called out: "Bye, I love you."

She had been due to appear in the dock with her husband to stand trial. She had denied two offences of money laundering but her pleas of not guilty were accepted by the prosecution after her husband admitted four of the 11 offences against him.

The court heard the offences took place in 2005 after Meredith was dismissed by the financial services company he worked for because of concerns over his work, including the fact he had seen elderly clients without a third party being present.

Meredith visited his victims and told them he needed cash to pay for legal fees to fight to clear his name. He also told them he was worried about supporting his family and that he owed £64,000.

Tony Loader, defending, said Meredith maintained the women had been his friends as well as his clients and that he was taking out a loan to repay them.

He said: "It was an error of judgement which led him into temptation."

Judge Anthony Scott-Gall told Meredith: "What you did was to con them out of £62,000 by a mixture of lies, deceits and untruths and the conman trick of playing on the kind hearts of people.

"It was despicable. You were comfortable but you still settled leech-like on these women to further your lifestyle."

A confiscation hearing to decide how he will pay back the proceeds of his crimes will be held in September.