A fraudster who took more than £600,000 from his mother’s savings account while she stayed at a Northampton retirement village has been jailed for six years.
Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday how, shortly after his father’s death in 2007, Newport Pagnell man Richard Willis learned that he would not be entitled to a large part of his parent’s large fortune in their wills.
You deluded yourself on a massive scale. You firmly believed that you were intended to receive your mother’s fortune.Judge Rupert Mayo
But over the following years the 62-year-old manoeuvred himself into the position of power attorney for his aging mother Audrey’s accounts.
Between May 1 and May 22, 2010 he transferred £185,000 from her account into his. Between June 18 and 22 of the same year he took a further £190,000.
In 2011 he sold his mother’s apartment at Richmond Retirement Village, in Bridge Meadow Way, Northampton, for £199,000 and moved his mother in to a full time care home - though he only used around £29,000 of the proceeds of the sale to pay for his mother’s care.
In February, Willis was convicted by a jury of four counts of fraud by abuse of position.
Sentencing him yesterday, judge Rupert Mayo said that Willis, who the court heard did not work and had relied on his wife for income, embezzled more than £600,000 entitled to his mother.
Summing up, he said Willis had committed an ‘appalling breach of trust’.
He said: “There was no more than a veneer of care shown towards your mother.
“You deluded yourself on a massive scale. You firmly believed that you were intended to receive your mother’s fortune.”
Judge Mayo stated that Willis’s parents had intended to give ‘the bulk’ of their large estate to his other two brothers instead of him, because they feared he would fritter the money away.
Willis, he said, used the large sums taken from his mother’s account to fund a new home, to pay off credit card debts and to fund a taste for expensive ‘food and wine’.
Judge Mayo handed Willis a total of six years in prison, half of which he will spend in custody, the other half he will spend on licence.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing scheduled ion the coming weeks will determine how much of the money Willis will have to repay.
Defending for him Jonathan Mole, said Willis did keep up ‘consistent’ payments on his mother’s care package before she died in 2013, though judge Mayo said in his closing remarks that Audrey Willis had died with only ‘two sets of clothes to her name’.
Mr Mole said: “The lasting victims of Mr Willis’s actions are the beneficiaries of the will.”
He added that Willis, who had heart surgery in 2002 and had to use a hearing loop in court, was in poor health and was struggling to cope with the rigours of prison, having been on remand since the end of his trial in February.
He said: “he finds prison a great deal harder than a younger man might.
“He is not equipped to deal with the behaviour of others.”