Harrogate grandmother plundered £54,000 of stepfather's pension - then went to Disneyland Florida

A former care worker cleaned out her elderly step-father's sizeable pension accounts while he was in care - then blew thousands on exotic holidays and expensive furniture for her home.

Friday, 22nd January 2016, 2:02 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2016, 3:04 pm

Patricia Cheshire, 66, lived the high life while her frail step-dad Eric Anthony, who lived with Alzheimer’s, relied on donations for everyday essentials such as clothing.

Over a six-year period, Cheshire, a grandmother-of-four from Harrogate, plundered over £54,000 from Mr Anthony’s accounts after being made appointee to his state pension and benefits.

She spent some of the money on a trip to Disneyland in the US, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Louise Reevell said Cheshire had been made Mr Anthony’s appointee by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) after the authorities made a “deprivation of liberty” order due to the victim’s dementia.

When Mr Anthony - who has since died - was taken into The Lawns nursing home in Harrogate in 2007, Cheshire opened an account in her own name for Mr Anthony’s benefits to be deposited.

The DWP made her sign a form to pledge that the money would only be used only for Mr Anthony’s benefit, but Cheshire practically wiped the account clean.

Ms Reevell said that when Cheshire’s accounts were inspected, investigators found references to ‘Magic Kingdom Ticket USA’ and ‘Cigar Box US’.

Social Services were alerted and arranged a meeting with Cheshire at her flat, which boasted a new four-piece suite and other expensive decorations.

“They also found holiday brochures for expensive locations,” said Ms Reevell. “Social Services were troubled by this because they knew she was on benefits.”

In October 2010, Mr Anthony was moved to the Morris Grange nursing home in Richmond, where his care was fully-funded for four years. As Mr Anthony’s state appointee, Cheshire was obliged to give him “pocket money” for essentials such as toiletries and clothing, but she only handed over token amounts which amounted to just under £230 over two-to-three years.

Ms Reevell said Cheshire should have given him thousands over that period, but nursing-home staff had to practically beg for the two payments they did receive.

“The defendant never visited Mr Anthony and never telephoned the home to see how he was, except one occasion when he went into hospital just before he died,” added Ms Reevell.

“Staff (at the home) even bought him a Christmas present, otherwise he wouldn’t have received anything.

“He was also in need of clothing and footwear, but his most recent clothing had to come from charitable donations.”

Mr Anthony died in February last year aged 81, by which time investigators had discovered that Cheshire, a mother-of-two, had transferred money from the pensioner’s funds into her own savings and third-party accounts.

“There were other beneficiaries (of Mr Antony’s estate), including two other siblings, who lost out,” said Ms Reevell.

Cheshire appeared for sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

The court heard she had a previous conviction for benefit fraud from February 2014. In that case, she failed to notify the DWP that her husband had died, allowing her to collect his full pension for 11 years.

Defence barrister Jessica Strange said Cheshire had not worked since the age of 50 because of arthritis and osteoporosis, and had to retire from care work as a result.

Judge Rodney Jameson QC branded Cheshire’s treatment of her step-dad “cruel” and condemned her for her greed and “utter neglect” of Mr Anthony.

Cheshire, of Dene Park, was jailed for 15 months.

Mr Jameson said it would have been much longer had it not been for her physical frailties.