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.
Graham Smith (59) of High Street, Henley-in-Arden, 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 92-year-old father William Smith, who had made the decision in 2013 to move into Arden House Care Home in Leamington.
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, including three Nationwide accounts with a total of about £76,000 in them and a HSBC account.
Mr Clarkson said that in July 2015 the monthly payment to Arden House was not received, and Smith failed to pay for several further months until the payments were ‘something in the region of £22,000 in arrears.’
“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.”
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.
Recorder William Edis QC asked whether Mr Smith Sr had been evicted or whether the care home was being patient.
Mr Clarkson added: “I believe they’re being patient. He’s 92, and because they’re a charitable organisation, they will allow him to remain and will cover the shortfall between his pension and the fee.”
William Douglas-Jones, defending, said: “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.”
Jailing Smith, Recorder Edis told him: “Your father is 92, and you are his only child. He remains alert and able to make decisions. But for ease, and because he was in a care home, you had power of attorney.
“Your role was to ensure the care home fees were paid. But instead of doing that, you plundered those accounts for your own purposes, resulting in a bad debt of £22,000 in unpaid fees, and in addition you took and applied to your own needs £62,788.
“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.
Of the sentence, Recorder Edis said it was in a range that could be suspended, but told Smith: “I am afraid I am not able to do so. This was an utterly mean-spirited, squalid and disgraceful offence.”