A Scarborough carer who preyed on a vulnerable elderly man and tried to take him for more than £60,000 has been jailed for over two years.
June Sanderson, 65, from Scarborough, was the victim’s carer for five years but in 2015 she tried to stake a claim to his inheritance by duplicity of the highest order, York Crown Court heard.
The 65-year-old victim, who was named in court, had been left a substantial inheritance and a mortgage-free flat on the north side of Scarborough by his mother who died in 2007.
Knowing the victim was incapable of managing his own finances, Sanderson sought to help herself to a large slice of the bequest by taking advantage of his “extreme” learning difficulties, said prosecutor Peter Byrne.
Sanderson - who has a previous conviction for “dishonesty” offences - began caring for the victim in 2010 after he responded to an advert she posted.
Little is known about the victim’s financial affairs in the five years to 2015 when Sanderson ruthlessly went after his money, but the court heard that by October or November of that year, she was “looking to access his money and use it for herself”.
The victim, described as “highly-suggestible”, trusted Sanderson implicitly but she slyly set up an online bank account for him in October 2015 knowing full well that he didn’t know how to use it.
When the victim’s flat was put up for sale in the same month, it was Sanderson who drove the sale, falsely convincing the victim that it had to be offloaded because it needed new fire doors. She was also ever-present at the victim’s appointments with the estate agents and accepted the first offer of about £86,000 for the property.
Mr Byrne said that Sanderson had made an enquiry about the equity on the property in February or March 2015 and was “keen to get her hands on a large proportion of the proceeds from the sale of the flat”.
She had even set up internet banking for the victim “in anticipation of the completion (of the sale) in November”.
Before it went through, Sanderson went to a local car dealership and put down a deposit on a £12,000 Nissan Juke. She then returned to the dealership and lied to staff that the sale of the flat had fallen through and said she wanted to cancel the deal and get her deposit back.
“She asked for the deposit to be refunded to a different card (thought to be her own),” said Mr Byrne.
“That was refused, and the deposit was refunded to the original Halifax bank card (belonging to the victim).”
Sanderson then went to another dealership, where she paid £13,000 for a Ford Focus using the victim’s account. This money was later paid back when the theft was discovered.
In the meantime, the sale of the flat went through. The prosecution said Sanderson had succeeded in “bundling” the victim out of the property where he had lived for many years with his parents. He ended up in a low-end flat in another part of town paying £70-a-week rent.
But there “appeared to have been some problem with (the victim’s) internet banking” which meant Sanderson couldn’t get her hands on the cash. Instead, she sent the victim to the Halifax branch in Scarborough with a handwritten note requesting the transfer of £48,000 from his account into hers, but the bank worker was suspicious and told him to come back later with his carer.
“They both went back to the branch within about an hour,” said Mr Byrne. “The defendant said (to a member of staff) that £48,000 was too much for (the victim) to have in his account and needed moving (because it would affect his entitlement to state benefits).”
She was told that a more senior staff member would have to deal with the transaction and later returned on her own, getting “verbally abusive” with the bank manager when he said he couldn’t allow the transfer to go through.
Sanderson, of Strensall Drive, said she also needed to withdraw £4,000 from the victim’s account because he owed her money for wages and a TV she claimed she had bought him but the manager wouldn’t authorise the transaction.
The following day, she went to see a solicitor to ask if you she could be given power of attorney over the victim’s financial affairs. Meanwhile, more dubious transactions popped up on the victim’s account.
“The defendant had been shopping using his bank card between October 4 and 5,” said Mr Byrne.
Sanderson allegedly spent over £594 - purportedly on family Christmas presents - at Debenhams and bought an iPhone for about £516 from Carphone Warehouse. She claimed the iPhone was for the victim and that “it was delivered to her by mistake”.
She was hauled in for questioning and charged with three counts of theft by employee and one count of attempted theft but denied all allegations.
Following a lengthy trial, the jury found her guilty on Wednesday of one count of theft and one of attempted theft in relation to the £13,000 sale of the car and the attempted transfer of £48,000. She was acquitted of the other two charges of theft in relation to purchases made at Debenhams and Carphone Warehouse.
Sentence was adjourned to Thursday, when Sanderson’s barrister David Gordon urged judge Andrew Stubbs QC to keep the inevitable jail sentence to a minimum due to Sanderson’s physical and mental ill-health due to a “terrible” childhood.
He also pointed out that the victim had effectively not lost out financially because the attempted £48,000 transfer had not gone through due to the bank’s diligence and the £13,000 purchase of the car had been refunded.
Mr Stubbs said Sanderson had “deliberately targeted” a vulnerable victim, adding: “We know that other people had taken money from him (before) and… you decided it was your turn, but on a completely different scale.
“(The victim’s) parents did everything they possibly could for him to set him up for life given the difficulties he faced, but despite their best efforts, you determined that you would try to deprive him of the money… and the flat that had been purchased for him.”
Mr Stubbs condemned Sanderson for her “lingering, long-lasting” deception and “determination to strip (the victim) of this money”.
Sanderson was jailed for two years and three months and given a 10-year restraining order banning her from contacting the victim or entering Huntriss Row in Scarborough.