A ‘MEAN-SPIRITED’ graphic designer cleaned out his 92-year-old father’s accounts to help prop up his struggling business after being granted power of attorney.
And but for the charitable outlook of the Leamington residential home where 59 year-old Graham Smith’s father was living, the pensioner could have lost his place there as a result.
Smith, of High Street, Henley, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to fraud in abuse of a position of trust.
Prosecutor Stuart Clarkson said the victim of the fraud was Smith’s father William Smith, had made the decision in 2013 to move into Arden House Care Home.
There was a monthly fee of around £3,250 which was to be paid by Smith after his father had given him power of attorney over most of his financial affairs – over £76,000 in various bank accounts.
But the monthly payment to Arden House suddenly stopped until they were ‘something in the region of £22,000 in arrears.’
Mr Clarkson said: “William Smith was told about that in July 2016, after the care home had attempted to speak to the defendant, without any satisfaction, getting nothing other than excuses.
“William Smith went to the bank, and describes himself as having been cleaned out, and there was also the debt to the care home.”
When Smith was arrested, he said he had always intended to pay the money back – and when he entered his plea it was said he still intends to do so when his home is sold.
William Douglas-Jones, defending, said Smith worked from home, from a shed in the garden, and the root cause of the fraud was the difficulty he was having chasing up some large unpaid invoices.
“He had no intention to retain this money over a long term. He had planned to pay it back when large overdue invoices were paid.
“He also tried to get two large bridging loans of £100,000 and £50,000 with a view to repaying his father; and he was attempting to sell his home to repay the money, and is still attempting to do so.”
Mr Douglas-Jones added since putting the house, said to be worth more than £650,000, on the market in November Smith had had only one offer, which he considered to be too low, but a potential cash buyer was now due to view it.
Smith took over £62,000 for his own needs, as well as running up the £22,000 in unpaid fees. He has since paid back £1,000.
Jailing Smith, Recorder William Edis told him: “This was an utterly mean-spirited, squalid and disgraceful offence.
“The reason you betrayed the trust your father placed in you was that your business was not doing well, and you wanted to help it through its financial difficulties, not with your own money, but with your father’s.
“I do note that you said you had no intention of keeping the money indefinitely and intended to repay it when you could, but that doesn’t alter the fact that you should not have taken it in the first place.
“It put your father’s future at risk. It is fortunate for him, and the care home is to be commended for this, that it has stood on its charitable status and allowed him to remain – but you were not to know that when you embarked on this.