A Buxton man who, along with his wife, stole thousands of pounds from his elderly mother who suffered from dementia, has been spared jail.
Andrew Smallwood had control of Enid Smallwood’s finances when she became ill, Derby Crown Court heard on Tuesday. But instead of using her pension to pay her care home fees as arranged, Smallwood pocketed his mother’s money for himself.
His wife Lisa also set up numerous online accounts on bingo websites using her mother-in-law’s bank accounts, prosecutor John Hallissey said.
Between them, the pair, who had financial difficulties themselves, left Enid heavily overdrawn, and the local authority eventually had to step in to sort out the care home fee arrears.
Enid has since sadly passed away, with Andrew Smallwood now entitled to half of her estate, the court heard.
Both Andrew and Lisa Smallwood, of Winster Grove, Fairfield, received suspended sentences.
Between May 17, 2009, and June 8, 2009, Lisa Smallwood opened a number of online gambling accounts using Enid Smallwood’s bank details. The total amount she took was £2,433.50.
In January 2011, Andrew Smallwood asked for help getting his mother into a care home.
But it took him three months to provide information about Enid’s finances so her contribution to her care could be assessed.
“What Andrew Smallwood did was take the money from the Post Office account and another account with Lloyds and rather than use it to pay the care home fees, withdrew it in cash for himself,” Mr Hallissey said.
“The figure we are talking about is £6,119.57, all withdrawn in cash using Enid Smallwood’s debit cards.”
Lisa Smallwood, 42, admitted two counts of fraud by false representation.
Andrew Smallwood, 52, admitted fraud by abuse of position and being in possession of an article for use in fraud.
Rachel White, defending Lisa, said: “Lisa abused her position of trust with Enid Smallwood by taking financial advantage of her.
“The defendant is remorseful and ashamed. She had an addiction to gambling.
“She committed these offences in circumstances where she herself was under considerable stress.
“Gambling was a means of escape. She foolishly thought she could somehow gamble her way out of poverty.”
Anthony Morris, defending Andrew Smallwood who suffers from depression, said: “Enid was quite open about paying bills for the family.
“What happens when she goes into the home is he became reliant on this and continued to use this particular money.
“Rather than being a plain fraud, it is really a continuation of circumstances that already existed.”
Sentencing them, Judge Ebraham Mooncey said: “This in my view is a very sad case.
“You must have realised that Enid had finances and very quickly when you ran into difficulties yourselves you decided to tap into that money source.”
Addressing Andrew Smallwood, he added: “Her Post Office account would be raided down to the penny.
“This money wasn’t yours to take. This was supposed to be for your mum and her needs.
“I am 100 per cent satisfied you both took advantage of a vulnerable lady.”
Lisa Smallwood was jailed for ten months, suspended for 15 months. She must also complete 120 hours’ unpaid work.
Andrew Smallwood was jailed for 15 months, suspended for 18 months.
He was also given a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place at a later date.