'˜Farce' as cheats may never pay back stolen cash
A COUPLE who stole up to Â£25,000 from a vulnerable man's bank may not be ordered to pay the cash back '“ as they are set to benefit from his will.
Judge Sarah Munro QC branded the situation ‘farcical’ as she jailed Linda Blakey, 56, but spared the alcoholic’s husband Colin, 57, from going to prison.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the pair took thousands of pounds from 82-year-old John Havey’s bank account.
Mr Havey suffers from suspected dementia and lives in sheltered housing in John Marshall Court, Nessus Street, Portsmouth, the court heard.
The husband and wife pair, of Lantana Close, Waterlooville, were only rumbled when in 2015 the victim asked an eagle-eyed carer to open a letter, who then noticed vets bills and supermarket bills.
Despite the alarm being raised, two weeks later a second letter opened by the carer revealed the Blakeys were asking Mr Havey to make them power of attorney over the pensioner.
When police were called in, forensic analysis of the bank accounts found huge sums had been paid to the Blakeys.
Russell Pyne, prosecuting, said: ‘In terms of cash withdrawals, Mr Havey use to withdraw £1,000 to £2,000 a year.
‘That’s the amount until 2012. In 2013 around £11,000, in 2014, nearly £11,000 and in 2015, £8,500 until the defendants’ arrest in November.’
He added money spent on shopping had grown ‘twice fold’ to £5,200 in 2013, £7,000 in 2014 and nearly £5,000 in 2015.
‘It appears that he treated both defendants as friends and appears he has few friends and from his perspective he has lost two trusted friends,’ Mr Pyne said.
Cash was spent on groceries, vets bill and £600 on an armchair, along with cash to fund Mrs Blakey’s drinking as she drank at least a one-litre bottle of vodka a day. The pair also went on holiday to Turkey.
The court heard she was previously sentenced for a £5,000 fraud on a 78-year-old man whom she was a carer for.
She was sentenced in July 2013 – and then started stealing from Mr Havey’s account, leaving it ‘hugely depleted’.
Daniel Reilly, for the couple, revealed in court they were beneficiaries of a 2009 will, bar £500 to the sheltered home.
The judge said if she ordered HGV driver Mr Blakey to pay up, he could end up getting the cash when Mr Havey dies.
‘It’s a somewhat farcical situation if the will is valid,’ the judge said.
Judge Munro said the pair ‘took advantage of the trust’ Mr Havey had in them but added Mr Blakey, who had been away for 188 days during the theft, turned a ‘blind eye’ to his wife’s actions.
The judge jailed Mrs Blakey for 26 months, including her previous 16-week suspended sentence, and handed her husband a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years with 180 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Reilly said the pair had ‘heartfelt remorse’ over their actions, but that former Territorial Army corporal Mr Blakey was not aware of the full extent.
He also said Mrs Blakey had spent six months off alcohol.
A further hearing will be held in August to decided any confiscation or compensation proceedings.