Son's £80k fraud left dementia-stricken mum deep in debt while he splashed cash on drugs, trips to Scotland and shopping in Ann Summers

Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh
Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

A greedy son left his dementia suffering mum deep in debt after treating himself to shopping trips and treats during an £80,000 fraud.

Craig McLennan spent cash in high street stores such as Ann Summers and HMV, fed his cocaine habit and enjoyed trips to Scotland, while his 86-year-old mother, from South Tyneside, was receiving court summonses as a result of the bills he was running up in her name.

At the time, McLennan's own bank balance was just eight pence.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim was unaware of her son's deceit because of her deteriorating medical condition but carers noted her "distress" at her lack of money.

McLennan, 56, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to fraud between November 2012 and July 2015.

Judge Robert Adams sentenced him to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 200 hours unpaid work.

The judge told him: "The complainant in this case is your own mother. I hope this offending is something you are deeply ashamed of.

"Thankfully, she is totally unaware of this betrayal by you, unaware of what his gone on. Very sensibly, the local authority do not intend to tell her as they feel this will have a detrimental effect on her.

"Thankfully, she is unaware of what her only son has done to her."

The judge said he was satisfied McLennan, who has never been in trouble before, was sorry for what he did, does not pose a risk to the public and is unlikely to offend again.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Muir told the court McLennan was granted Power of Attorney over his mother's affairs after his father's death in 2012.

At the time his own bank account, which had a balance of just eight pence, was abandoned and he started using his mother's.

The court heard McLennan used his trusted position to take out loans and credit from M&S, Santander, Barclays and Tesco Finance in his mother's name and released equity she had in her home.

At the same time, his mother's Barclay's bank account, which had a balance of £2,855, was drained until it was £1,000 overdrawn

Miss Muir told the court: "There was transactions at stores she clearly would not have shopped at, such as HMV, Anne Summers and holiday payments for the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and withdrawals at Penrith.

"It is clear the victim never went anywhere, let alone holidays in Edinburgh or Penrith."

The court heard as while treating himself using his mother's cash, McLennan had stopped paying her bills.

Miss Muir said: "She had court summonses for her in respect of unpaid bills."

McLennan admitted his guilt on the basis he used £38,000 to pay off a previous financial arrangement his mother had been aware of, had used £3,000 on her funeral plan and that she had benefited from some of the money in other ways.

Graeme Cook, defending, said McLennan is his mum's sole relative and would be the only one to inherit any assets.

Mr Cook said McLennan developed a cocaine habit after his father's death and now lives in a tent in York after doing a "moonlight flit" from his drug debt.

Mr Cook said McLennan, who now has a full time job, hopes to regain contact with his mother and pay back what he took.