Couple jailed after stealing £62k from mentally-ill relative for expensive motorbikes and cars (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Couple jailed after stealing £62k from mentally-ill relative for expensive motorbikes and cars
A COUPLE who stole thousands of pounds of inheritance from a relative with learning disabilities to buy expensive motorbikes and cars have been jailed.
The actions of Jane Martin, 51, and Steven Collins, 53, were described as “despicable” by a judge as he sentenced them to three and four years respectfully for targeting Martin’s severely disabled brother Vaughan.
A jury convicted the pair this week of two counts of theft. Collins was also found guilty of wilful neglect of a vulnerable person, which was described in court as a “grotesque breach of trust”.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard that the couple plundered £62,000 from Vaughan, 53, over a 15-month period which had been left to him following the death of his and Martin’s mother Violet in November 2011.
Martin worked for LV at the time and Collins had just lost his job at Superior Seals.
In May, 2012 Martin and Collins moved Vaughan from his safe care home to their house in Red Barn Farm, Blandford.
That July, Vaughan was put into a respite care home in Dorchester while Martin and Collins went on holiday.
The jury heard staff at the home discovered bruising on Vaughan’s body and an investigation was launched.
It was then police discovered £62,000 missing from Vaughan’s bank account and that the pair had also taken £14,772 from Violet before she died.
A police expert found seven separate sites of assault on Vaughan’s body in the areas of his kidney and genitalia.
Lee Christmas, representing Martin, said the pair stole the money following a “loss of control out of despair”.
Nicholas Robinson, representing Collins, said: “The shame of his conduct will be with him until the end of his days.”
Sentencing Judge Peter Johnson said: “This was a despicable loss of control.
“You were living well beyond your means.
“You systematically plundered Vaughan’s bank account to the sum of £62,000 over approximately 15 months.
“Some of it was used to buy expensive motorbikes, and also a Mini Cooper.”
A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation hearing will be held at a later date to retrieve Vaughan’s money.
Afterwards DS Paul Smith said: “The charges follow a very protracted and difficult investigation, due predominately to the fact we could not interview either victim.”
He said the investigation was carried out by Dorset Police and Dorset County Council social services who will take action to ensure the most vulnerable members of society are not at undue risk of harm.
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