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York woman who stole more than £75,000 from elderly woman and her dead nephew jailed

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A woman who stole more than £75,000 from an elderly woman and the woman’s dead nephew to benefit her own bank account has been jailed for two years.

The Rochingham breakfast set

Monica Bailey, 54, from Whixley near York, North Yorkshire, a family friend and neighbour of the victims, was chosen to look after the elderly woman’s financial affairs after the woman’s nephew, who was the executer of her will, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was also appointed to take care of the nephew’s estate.

She pleaded guilty, today, to two counts of fraud by abuse of her position at York Crown Court.

On 1 August 2009, being satisfied that the 82-year-old woman lacked capacity, the Court of Protection appointed her nephew to be her deputy. At that time the victim was still living in her home in Whixley, York before moving to a care home in 2010.

In June 2013, her nephew discovered that he had a brain tumour and sadly passed away in September the same year. Before he died, he arranged that should anything happen to him, Bailey should be appointed as the new deputy for his aunt.

He also requested that his residuary estate was to be divided equally between six charities; The Donkey Sanctuary; The RSPCA; The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association; Cancer Research UK; The Yorkshire Air Ambulance; and The RNLI. Specific items from his estate were also to be donated to Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Scarborough Museum and Art Gallery.

The elderly woman passed away in October 2017. Approximately four months prior to her death, the care home in which she was living in contacted North Yorkshire Police after becoming concerned that she was not being adequately provided for and that her finances were being misappropriated.

An investigation by North Yorkshire Police led them to Bailey and revealed that her fraudulent conduct covered a number of activities over four years which included:

  1. Using the 87-year-old woman’s bank card and bank accounts for her own benefit.
  2. Disposing of assets belonging to the nephew’s estate, and applying the proceeds of sale for her own benefit including a Rochingham breakfast set (pictured) and paintings that were the subject of specific bequests.
  3. Obtaining payments, including pension and funeral payments that were due to the nephew’s estate, and using them for her own benefit,
  4. Using a bank card belonging to the nephew for her own benefit. This involves a £300 bank withdrawal that was made after his death.

On Friday 20 September 2019 at York Crown Court, Bailey was found guilty of two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

North Yorkshire Police will now commence a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation investigation to recover the money.

Financial Investigator Emma Harris who lead on the investigation said: “Bailey abused her position of trust and responsibility and plundered the bank accounts and estates of an elderly lady and the lady’s deceased nephew, believing that she would never be found out.

“In his dying months, the nephew trusted Bailey with both his and his aunt’s estate should anything happen to him after he found out the devastating news that he had a brain tumour. Bailey abused that trust with liberty and freely helped herself to their money for her own gain.

“I’d like to thank the care home for raising their concerns to the police, without them the extent of Bailey’s deceit may never have been uncovered.

“Today’s outcome should send a very clear message to those who seek to take advantage of the elderly and vulnerable. Justice will be done and you will be made to face the consequences of your actions.”

Spot the signs of financial abuse:

  • Unexplained loss of money
  • Inability to pay bills, overdue rent
  • Person unable to access their own money or check their own accounts
  • Deterioration in standard of living, for example an inability to purchase items that they could normally afford
  • Unusual activity in bank accounts
  • Cheques being signed or cashed by other people without someone’s consent
  • Inappropriate granting and/or use of a Power of Attorney
  • Sudden change or creation of a will to benefit an individual significantly
  • Missing personal belongings such as art, jewellery and silverware.

If you suspect someone is committing fraud, please call your local police on 101.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Last modified: September 20, 2019