A woman who fleeced her seriously-ill elderly neighbour and a kind-hearted man out of £75,000 has been jailed for two years.
Monica Bailey’s “wicked” plot included plundering the savings and pension of Irene Leadley, who was in her 80s when she was taken into a care home.
Bailey, 54, of Whitby, was effectively given power-of-attorney over her friend’s finances when she was taken into care and was made joint executor for the will of Nigel Quick - Ms Leadley’s middle-aged nephew whom she had known for years.
York Crown Court heard that Bailey, as a Court of Protection representative for Ms Leadley, was entrusted to pay her care-home fees and exact the will of Mr Quick, but in fact she did the complete opposite and spent her ill-gotten gains on a Sky subscription, furniture, alcohol and children’s toys.
Heather Gilmore, prosecuting, said Bailey was simultaneously raiding the estate of Mr Quick and even stole funds set aside for his funeral after he died of a brain tumour.
She also helped herself to his Rockingham Breakfast Set and collection of watercolour and oil paintings which he had bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and an art gallery in Scarborough.
Whatever remained in the will after these donations was meant to be split between six charities.
But instead of donating the rare, 19th-century Rockingham pottery to the V&A, which was Mr Quick’s dying wish, Bailey sold them at auction and kept the money herself. She did the same with his paintings.
Ms Leadley, who was Bailey’s next-door neighbour, died in late 2017 and her house in the village of Whixley, near Harrogate, was put up for sale to pay the outstanding care-home fees which had gone unpaid due to Bailey’s cruel scheming.
Bailey - formerly of High Street, Whixley - appeared for sentence on Friday after admitting two counts of fraud. The offences occurred between 2013 and 2017.
Ms Gilmore said that before his death, Mr Quick had arranged for Bailey to be deputy executor of his will. He also left her a £280,000 property for which there was a “specific request”.
About four months before Ms Leadley died, managers at the care home reported their suspicions to police because it appeared that she was “not being provided for” and didn’t even have her own clothes to wear.
Police were informed and the “mean”, outrageous fraud was finally laid bare.
It was found that Ms Leadley’s bank accounts had been plundered, and in some cases wiped clean.
Insurance payments set aside for Mr Quick’s funeral had been taken by Bailey who used his bank card to withdraw money after he died.
She also cashed and withdrew £1,500 of Mr Quick’s NS&I Premium Bonds when the money should have gone to a legal firm. In total, Bailey wiped £45,117 from his estate.
Ms Gilmore said Bailey began syphoning thousands of pounds from Mr Quick’s account just two days after he died. She also cashed two cheques worth thousands from the auction sale of the items he had bequeathed.
Bailey, who was “struggling financially”, moved money around Ms Leadley’s accounts and made large withdrawals and purchases. Some of the money was spent on care-home fees, but the majority she spent on herself, including taxing and insuring her car and paying “11 direct debits to Sky”.
She also transferred Ms Leadley’s pension payments into her own account and failed to credit a £1,800 tenant payment to the pensioner from renting her home in Whixley. Council tax on the property went unpaid.
In all, Ms Leadley was defrauded out of more than £32,000. The total loss to the estates of the two victims was £75,541.
Richard Reed, for Bailey, said: “She is profoundly sorry that she has abused the trust and friendship of Mr Quick and Ms Leadley. She (had) known both these (people) for 20 years.”
He added that Bailey, who has three previous convictions for theft, had spent some of the money on furniture and a deposit for her new house in Whitby.
Judge Sean Morris labelled Bailey’s offences “wicked” and “just plain greedy”.
He told her: “You were trusted by two people to look after their estates (but you) fleeced them. One of these was a gentleman who… trusted you to make sure that his dying wishes were followed; that his precious possessions went to places where the public could enjoy them; that money went to the charities that were close to his heart.”
Bailey was given a two-year jail sentence, of which she will serve half behind bars.
Mr Morris adjourned financial-confiscation proceedings to February next year but told Bailey she would be expected to pay back every penny.