VIDEO: Fellow MS sufferer's Â£56,000 betrayal of former solider
BETRAYED Michael Charter has told of his hatred for a woman who won his trust through a multiple sclerosis group then cheated him of Â£56,000.
The 48-year-old former Territorial Army engineer has seen his health slowly decline, forcing him to use a wheelchair and rely on carers.
But the dad-of-two was dealt a hammer blow after Karen Reeves took his children’s inheritance to fund her gambling addiction.
Michael met Reeves, 57, in the Fareham and Gosport branch of the MS Society, where she was on the committee and in charge of fundraising.
Speaking to The News at his adapted home, Michael said: ‘I have been very betrayed.
‘We met through the MS Society but she became a close friend. We would go out, socialise.
‘She was taking me into the bank and I didn’t realise she wrote down the numbers.
‘She was going on holidays in Greece with friends – I was paying for the lot.’
Reeves confessed her fraud to Mr Charter’s elderly father and to his mother, who has since died.
‘I was in shock, I couldn’t believe what she was doing,’ Mr Charter added.
‘She’s spent all of that and hasn’t got any more money. So I’ve lost it.
‘She was gambling and I was an easy target.’
At Portsmouth Crown Court, Reeves admitted fraud between October 2014 and November 2015 and was handed a two-year prison term suspended for two years.
Edward Elton, prosecuting, told the court she had six dishonesty-related convictions dating back to 1996.
He said: ‘Using Mr Charter’s money she paid for her day-to-day expenditures, gambling debts, her husband’s van and holidays.’
Reading Michael’s victim statement he added: ‘I hate her and I find it hard to trust anybody else now.
‘My confidence in other people is lost.’
Sentencing, judge Linda Sullivan QC said: ‘It would seem that in the early days you were of assistance to him and became his carer.
‘He trusted you and you were given control of his finances.
‘In 2012, he was in a position in which he had a substantial sum of cash and you, after suffering from cancer and losing your husband, made this money your own.
‘You chose an honourable victim and he was completely unaware you were taking his money.’
The judge lowered the sentence due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ after hearing Reeves, of Northmore Road, Locks Heath, had been abducted and held in a van for four hours when she was 10.
Stephen Parish, defending, said: ‘No-one was ever charged for it and she is now claustrophobic, hates the dark and cannot sleep well at night.
‘She also had breast cancer and her husband left her.
‘This set her off down the gambling route.
‘She said she did not want to be alone and said that she liked the gambling sites as there was a chat box where she could talk to other people and not feel alone.’
Reeves must complete 20 rehabilitation activity days.
An MS Society spokeswoman urged people with MS who are distressed about the case to call 0808 800 8000.
‘Our thoughts are particularly with Michael Charter and his family and we hope they can now move forward with their lives,’ she said.