Harrogate man fraudulently blew nearly £10,000 in mother's care home funds

Richardson was sentenced at York Crown Court on Monday.
Richardson was sentenced at York Crown Court on Monday.

A son of a Harrogate woman was told he will 'probably never see his mother again' after blowing nearly £10,000 which was meant to pay for her care-home fees.

Peter Richardson, 43, set out on the betrayal after being handed power of attorney over his mother’s finances.

Carol Richardson, 65, was taken into Bilton Hall Nursing Home in Harrogate after suffering brain damage after a heart attack, York Crown Court heard.

But instead of ensuring that his mother’s fees were paid when she was most in need, Richardson blew the cash on slap-up meals, expensive bikes and clearing an £8,000 drug debt during an 18-month spending blitz.

Prosecutor Chloe Fairley said Mrs Richardson’s fees went unpaid for over a year while her son lavished vast amounts on his new-found luxury lifestyle.

The care home called him repeatedly after each missed payment but their calls went unanswered.

Richardson’s brother John Richardson confronted him about the unpaid fees and the defendant “promised to pay the money back,” said Ms Fairley.

His brother thought that was the end of it, but about six months later he became suspicious again when Peter Richardson bought himself an expensive bike.

Over a four-week period in July last year, Richardson paid off his £700 rent arrears with his mother’s money and “appeared to be going out in the evenings for dinner and drinks on a regular basis”, added the barrister.

His brother confronted him again about his spending and this time Richardson, who runs a small warehouse, “accepted he had kept (his mother’s money) and did not pay for the care-home fees”.

“He told his brother that he just kept having a good time,” said Ms Fairley.

John Richardson reported the matter to police and his brother was arrested.

It transpired that the defendant had blown £9,779 of his mother’s money between January 2015 and July 2016.

Richardson, of Butler Road, Harrogate, was quizzed by police and admitted he had used the money to fund his own extravagant lifestyle.

“He said he had fallen on hard times and had only made one payment to the home since January 2015,” said Ms Fairley.

“He said he used the money to pay for rent arrears to his landlord and had (large) drug debts due to a significant cannabis habit.”

Richardson appeared in court for sentence on Monday (February 20) after pleading guilty to fraud.

His barrister Peter Minikin said Richardson’s finances were in “dire straits” at the time of the fraud spree.

“He accepts what he did was terrible,” added Mr Minikin, who said Richardson had since kicked his drug habit.

Mr Minikin said that because of her brain injury, Richardson’s mother - who is still in the care home despite her son’s profligacy - had no knowledge of his betrayal.

Power of attorney had since been transferred to her other son John.

“Peter Richardson is now somewhat estranged from the family and is not allowed to see his mother, which is something he has found very difficult, particularly given her ill health and potentially the little time she has to live,” added Mr Minikin.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Richardson that the betrayal of his mother was “about as mean and despicable (an offence) as anyone could imagine”.

Mr Stubbs added: “Your victim is your own mother who… perhaps fortuitously… will never know that you have treated her money in such a criminal and cavalier fashion.

"You have to live with the knowledge that, as a result of what you have done, you will probably never see her again.”

Richardson was handed a 12-month prison sentence, but this was suspended for 18 months because he had not offended for a considerable time.

He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work and take part in a 25-day rehabilitation programme.

The benefit money he spent will be recouped by the Department for Work and Pensions.