'Mean' South Tyneside charity worker jailed for fleecing his poorly mum out of £35,000

Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

A charity worker who fleeced his dementia suffering mother out of £35,000 and spent it on holidays, shopping trips and a car has been jailed for three years.

"Mean" William Gardner was given the power of attorney over his mother Doreen's accounts after she was diagnosed with dementia in 2011.

The 82-year-old's condition rapidly decreased and she was put into Windsor Care Home in Hebburn, South Tyneside, in 2012 - when the fraudulent activities began.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Gardner then began to siphon money from his mother's accounts by transferring £10,000 to his own account for personal use.

He then continued to plunder Doreen's account and splashed out on holidays, theatre trips, supermarket shops and even paid for an £11,400 car.

The 42-year-old then became aware that he had reached his mother's overdraft limit and so watched as she was served with eviction notices from her care home because she could no

longer afford to pay for the service.

South Tyneside Council stepped in and helped with Mrs Gardner's care, however, she was left owing £13,000 to the home.

Eventually, in 2014, her son handed himself into the police and admitted that it was "only him" who had access to the bank account.

Prosecutor Ian Mullarkey said: "The defendant attended Southwick police station and was interviewed.

"There were suspicions surrounding the money, but his head went in the sand because of his activities.

"Doreen was served with a notice of eviction from Windsor Care Home, in Hebburn.

"It was £464 a week for her care.

"The defendant knew that the money had gone.

"This has had a serious detrimental impact on the victim.

"She was threatened with eviction from the care home twice and she was left with £20,000 of arrears."

Gardner's older brother Thomas Melia told the court how he struggled to trust any of his own family after the crime.

He said: "He will always be my little brother, but I am so disappointed."

Defence barrister Barry Robson explained that Gardner did not set out to defraud his mum, but temptation took over.

He said: "This is a very unusual case.

"This was not something that was fraudulent from the outset.

"In 2011 he was declared bankrupt - so he could not understand why he was given the power of attorney.

"He was the primary carer of his mother.

"He had to leave work because of the stress, anxiety and depression that came with that job.

"This action did not start life as a fraud, it evolved into a fraud.

"This is a man who has brought disgrace upon himself."

Gardner, of Landfall Drive, Hebburn, admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of trust.

The former Changing Lives worker was sentenced to three years behind bars.

Judge Advocate General Paul Camp said: "He must have caused a lot of stress for this old lady.

"She was helpless and you fleeced her.

"This is a very mean offence indeed.

"You know you should have been administrating the money for her benefit.

"Immediate result was that she could not fund her care herself and twice faced eviction.

"You put an £11,000 car before your mother's care."