Carer jailed for £340,000 theft from 99 year old
A case fought by Ashtons’ client, Marnie George, the niece of the late Reginald ‘Rex’ Lucraft, has resulted in a carer being jailed for 32 months for defrauding Mr Lucraft out of around £340,000 over a ten year period.
Rex died in 2014, aged 99, having been partially sighted and immobile for several years. After his death it emerged that his carer, Myles Roberts, had taken varying amounts of cash over a ten year period.
The fraud is believed to have started in 2004 shortly after the death of Rex’s younger partner. The couple had been together for some time but had no children, meaning the main beneficiaries of his estate were his nieces, although Myles Roberts was given a legacy of £10,000.
Mr Roberts was Rex’s carer for over ten years and was trusted by him and his family. He was invited with Rex to family weddings and christenings. After Rex died, his family learned that the fraud started by large amounts of cash being transferred online from savings accounts to current accounts and subsequently being withdrawn, on a daily basis, over a short space of time. By 2007, Rex’s savings of almost £160,000 had been taken. Mr Roberts, having spent the savings, then fraudulently drew down further sums against a mortgage secured against Rex’s London flat. He also sold Rex’s shares and extricated money from third parties who thought they were lending to Rex. Mr Roberts also stole money and sold shares after Rex had a stroke and was in hospital. Finally, he tried to cash a cheque for £10,000 after Rex had died.
Polly Stephenson is a Partner at Ashtons Legal who advises executors and trustees in claims relating to personal estates. She acted in this matter for Marnie George, who is Rex’s great niece.
Polly said: “Marnie George and the rest of Rex Lucraft’s family wanted to know why Mr Lucraft’s bank and other providers failed to safeguard the assets of this elderly gentleman.The online transactions made were extremely suspicious and it seemed that measures were not put in place to query any of them. Why and how would an elderly infirm and blind man make daily online transfers and then immediately withdraw the maximum allowed each day?”
She added: “We realised we needed to act fast, securing a freezing order against Mr Roberts. We then involved the police and together, over two and a half years, we pieced together sufficient evidence to lead to him being charged with seven counts of fraud to which he eventually pleaded guilty.”
Polly goes on to give some useful advice: “Elderly people need to be vigilant with whom they trust, but banks and other institutions simply must do more to protect their vulnerable customers. Had the bank picked up on the unusual transactional activity at the outset, all this could have been avoided.”
Client Marnie George said: “We are so very grateful to Polly and the work she did to bring this sad story to its conclusion. It was reassuring having her help us through the difficult and stressful process over the past three years. Although we are unable to get all the money back, we hope that this case forces the banks and other institutions to review their procedures so no other family has to go through this pain.”
Photographed – Rex Lucraft and Marnie George in 2005
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