Man stole £6,000 from elderly ‘father figure’ friend

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A man who withheld more than £6,000 in benefits from an elderly friend he looked up to as a father figure has been spared jail.

Callum Walton had regularly visited his late friend Alex McPherson in care, taking him out on trips to the bookmakers and his home.

But the court heard Walton stopped visiting him, and withheld money he should have been taking in for him, severely impacting on his quality of life.

Northampton Crown Court heard Walton had power of attorney for Mr McPherson’s affairs, and they had lived together since 2006. Mr McPherson had described Walton as “the son I never had”.

Walton, aged 47, of Irondale Close, Briar Hill, Northampton, was initially due to stand trial for fraud, but pleaded guilty to a neglect charge under the Mental Capacity Act. The charge was based on the fact that Walton did not steal the money.

Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, told the court a total of £6,144 had not been given to Mr McPherson over a nine-month period.

Georgina Gibbs, mitigating, said: “This is not one of these cases where this man has bled him dry. They had a father-son relationship. But he let him down in the worst possible way.”

Sentencing Walton, Recorder Geoffrey Kelly said: “A man who you treated as a father figure trusted you completely. His life would have improved if he had access to various activities, and he had the money to do so.

“But he could not, simply because you kept the money. It seems to me it is about as serious a breach of trust as you can get. I can’t imagine a more vulnerable victim.”

Walton was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.