Son-in-law jailed for theft of 94-year-old's care cash

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By Western Morning News | Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 08:00

A businessman who admitted stealing cash from the sale of his mother-in-law's house and using it to prop up his failing company has been jailed for three years.

David Stanton, 68, helped himself to half of the £250,000 proceeds from the sale of Fanny Epps' home.

Stanton, who has a string of previous convictions for fraud and deception from the 1970s, used the money to support his mobility scooter business and maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and expensive holidays.

He left his frail victim with no money to pay for her care home fees, and her two daughters without any inheritance.

Exeter Crown Court heard that when the cash ran out Mrs Epps was moved from her double room at her nursing home to a smaller single room. She later died, aged 94, owing £12,000 in unpaid fees.

Stanton and his now ex-wife Ruth held power of attorney over Mrs Epps' finances when she sold her house in July 2002 to move into a nursing home.

Mrs Stanton trusted her husband to control the £245,209.25 and from that money he was to pay her nursing home bills.

Prosecutor James Taghdissian said: "This is a case in which the defendant has stolen a large amount of money from his deceased mother-in-law and has, the Crown say, used it for his own benefit and leading a lifestyle which otherwise would be beyond him."

Mr Taghdissian said Stanton had also used Mrs Epps' money to pay for the hire of top-of-the-range BMWs and five-star holidays.

The court heard that matters came to a head in April 2008 when the money ran out and Stanton attempted suicide.

He then lied to his wife of 29 years by claiming he was suffering from terminal cancer, Mr Taghdissian said.

The court heard that Stanton had spent £127,602 with the remainder of the near £250,000 used legitimately to pay Mrs Epps' care bills.

Mrs Stanton has since split from her husband and now lives in a one-bedroom flat in Exmouth.

At an earlier hearing, Stanton, of Victoria Place, Budleigh Salterton, East Devon, admitted theft and converting £530.75 in criminal property. No evidence was offered in two other similar charges.

Stanton, who has a "life-limiting" breathing disease, had part of a lung removed after being diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Lee Bremridge, defending, said his client had breached a position of trust when he held power of attorney over Mrs Epps' financial affairs.

"When the business started to fail he should have changed his lifestyle, but didn't and continued to use Mrs Epps' money to continue that lifestyle," he said.

Jailing him for three years, recorder John Williams said: "You are going to go to prison. I would be failing in my public duty if I were to do anything other than that.

"It is fairly difficult to think of a greater degree of trust that would be placed in you than to look after an elderly lady's finances."

Stanton also faces at a later date a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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