STUART Pepall trusted his mum completely. So when she claimed to have paid £22,000 in compensation he was owed into a trust fund until he turned 21, he believed her.
In fact devious Linda Pepall, 48, had forged her son’s signature on documents to secretly get the cash paid into her bank account – then spent the lot.
Stuart, who has bravely waived his right to anonymity, was entitled to the pay out from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a family friend as a child.
But he never saw a penny of the cash after mum Linda received it in October 2005 when Stuart was 14 years old.
Within a week she had withdrawn £6,000 from the account.
By Christmas that year the balance had plummeted to £1,800.
And by February 2006 – four months after Mrs Pepall received Stuart’s money – the £22,000 was gone, having being secretly spent on paying her debts and everyday living expenses.
Stuart, now 21, said: ‘She’s my mum and I trusted her.
‘I knew a long time before it came to this the money wasn’t there.
‘It just kept kidding myself it was. I don’t know if I will forgive her.
‘I just want to get on and carry on with rebuilding and going from there.’
Mrs Pepall’s web of deceit began to unravel in 2008 when Stuart asked about the cash.
She initially lied when confronted, telling him she had received a payout but that the money was being kept in a trust fund until he turned 21.
But she later admitted in a letter to Stuart that the money was gone, saying she had never meant to spend the cash but that she had ‘never been good with money’.
Pepall – who was sacked from her job as a healthcare support worker for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust after the allegations against her came to light – pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.
But she denied that Stuart had never known about her application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for the cash on his behalf.
However Deputy Circuit Judge Patrick Hooton ruled that Stuart had been kept completely in the dark about the claim.
Pepall, of High Street, Southwick, near Fareham, was sentenced to a year in jail.
Deputy Circuit Judge Hooton, sentencing, said: ‘I have got absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Stuart never knew his mother was making a claim and was totally unaware of the fact that she got the money.
‘I accept that once he confronted her with it in 2008 she may have at least expressed some feelings of remorse and I accept that she may have indeed made some futile attempt to pay some of it back.
‘But by then she had spent it.’
He added: ‘She had the money, she didn’t tell him she applied for it and she spent almost all of it on herself and her debts.’
Courts order her to repay just £5 of the cash she stole
FRAUDSTER Linda Pepall has been ordered to pay back just £5 of the cash she stole.
A confiscation hearing held at Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 48-year-old, from High Street, Southwick, near Fareham, has no assets.
She has now been told by the courts that she has to pay back just £5.
Pepall, who earlier broke down in the dock while giving evidence, faces having an extra seven days added to her 12-month prison sentence if she fails to pay the money.
Deputy Circuit Judge Patrick Hooton, in sentencing Pepall, said: ‘It’s not just that you have had the £22,000 – that’s serious enough.
‘But it’s the way it happened and the way subsequent to that it’s transpired that your son has had to come into the witness box and give evidence which directly counteracts what you are saying. I have no doubt whatsoever that all this – which is entirely your doing – has split your family asunder and you have to live with the misery of that, as well as the knowledge that you deceived your son and spent the money, then came here and blamed him.’