A court heard that a man trusted to look after his elderly mother’s money spent £ 70,000 on escorts and gambling.
Rupert Clarke was trusted as a power of attorney for his then 89-year-old mother, Janet of Hartley Wintney, who has dementia.
Winchester Crown Court was notified today (April 1) that Clarke had transferred “substantial” funds from his mother’s account on 61 separate occasions.
Prosecutor Franklin told the court that this happened between January 12 and May 30, 2019.
Lloyds Bank opened an investigation into which the account was frozen, but Clarke “lied” about the money, claiming it was being sent to “friends” his mother knew to help them with car and rental costs The recipients provided him with escort services.
Clarke told investigator that payments had been suspended, but spent an additional £ 18,200 of his mother’s money on gambling websites in June 2019.
When Clarke was interviewed, he was “adamant” that the women “extorted” money from him.
He pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing, but was charged again after drawing up a psychological report admitting his guilt.
Mr. Franklin described the crime as an “abuse of power” over a “prolonged period” and as particularly culpable due to his mother’s age and mental incapacity.
When Clark admitted his guilt, he said he was “taken advantage of” by companions who came to his house to drink and smoke and had access to his computer and bank passwords.
In a letter read in court, Clarke said that “not a day goes by if I don’t really regret what happened,” adding, “I love my mother very much and have looked after her since my father was 12 years old Years ago. I started drinking a lot and I had no one to help me.
“I hope to see my mother again and get help to make me a good son.”
Ms. Hurley, who defended herself, described her client as “vulnerable”.
She said the psychological report produced described Clarke as “abandoned and hopeless” and as a man who “tried so many times to commit suicide”.
She said the lack of friendships or ties made him “dependent” on calling emergency services so someone could speak to him.
She added, “He should never have been given power of attorney, and he told me he never wanted that kind of responsibility.”
Ms. Hurley reiterated that Clarke was being exploited but that he “absolutely accepts that he invited the benefit and that he is guilty”.
She said the “greatest punishment” he faced was not being able to see his mother while on bail. She said she missed her son.
“I’m not saying it’s not a lot of money, but the property is worth over a million pounds. It didn’t affect her, she doesn’t even know about it, ”said Ms. Hurley.
“She doesn’t understand why she can’t see Rupert.
“There’s no mistaking how inexcusable his behavior was, but if he’s in custody for the last few years or months of your life it won’t solve it.”
Recorder James Watson QC said it was a “gross abuse of confidence” and noted that Clarke “evaded and lied” while questioning the bank.
However, he also took into account the reported “recurrent depressive disorder” and “escalated alcohol use”, Clarke’s vulnerability, and the fact that he had no prior beliefs.
The recorder Watson sentenced Clarke to 22 months’ imprisonment, which was suspended for 18 months. He also ordered the completion of 25 days of rehab activity and 150 hours of unpaid work.
He gave no compensation because the amount raised could never realistically be repaid, but instead urged Clarke to keep his promises to try to make amends and “rebuild all the bridges that left his family after this gross breach of trust and dishonesty can be rebuilt. ”