Fraudster helped herself to war veteran's cash while elderly victim lived in a home with 'no belongings of her own'

A fraudster helped herself to a war veteran's cash while the victim lived in a home with "no belongings of her own".

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:10 pm

Heather Garbutt-Iley had been given control of her husband's aunt Rita Telford's finances, by the Court of Protection, after the pensioner was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2015.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Mrs Telford, who was a member of the Royal Signals in World War 2 and went on to own a clothes shop in Sunderland, had £108,000 in savings when Garbutt-Iley took over.

Just four months later the money in the accounts, which received regular pension payments that would cover the widow's care costs, had dwindled down to just £36,871.

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Heather Garbutt-Iley

Garbutt-Iley, of Ferndale Grove, East Boldon, paid most of the money back and was stripped of the power to control Mrs Telford's finances.

But she has admitted fraud by abuse of position in relation to £7,194 that is still unaccounted for.

The court heard Mrs Telford died at a care home in Hebburn in 2017, at the age of 93.

Judge Edward Bindloss today jailed Garbutt-Iley for 12 months and told her: "You were not entitled to that money, you were not entitled to use it for your own purposes.

"Those who are placed in a position of trust by the Court of Protection must discharge their duties both lawfully and scrupulously."

Judge Bindloss ordered Garbutt-Iley must pay the £7,194 back.

Prosecutor David Comb said despite having control over Mrs Telford's finances, Garbutt-Iley would rarely visit her.

Mr Comb said; "The care home staff would provide her with their own cigarettes as they felt sorry for her as she had none.

"She would call late at night to enquire about her but wouldn't visit or send any money or items."

The court heard when Mrs Telford's niece visited the home she felt Garbutt-Iley did not want her to be alone with her aunt.

Mr Comb added: "She was told by the care home staff she had no belongings of her own and was wearing clothes belonging to previous occupants of the home who had passed away.

"No money had been given to her for treats such as sweets or visits from the hairdresser."

In a victim statement, Mrs Telford's niece said her aunt, who was "loving, caring and generous" had lived a financially secure and comfortable life but the family were unable to access a flat she owned, or any of her belongings, once Garbutt-Iley took over.

The niece said after a "nightmare" and once Garbutt-Iley was removed from power and a solicitor took over, the other family members could then step in.

She said in a statement: "We took some keepsakes, pictures and clothes for her, including pictures she had painted herself and took them to the home.

"When she saw them she cried with happiness.

"I will keep that image of happy tears in my heart forever."

The niece said Mrs Telford, who was proud of her army service, was stripped of her dignity, as well as the money and that the family fought a hard battle to get justice for her.

She added: "Rita would be grateful we fought for her all this time, even if she didn't live to see the final outcome."

Craig Hassall QC, defending, said Garbutt-Iley is her husband's carer and has significant health problems herself.

Mr Hassall said there as "no sophistication or planning" in the offending.