Couple jailed for stealing £30,000 from father and son
A Queensbury couple have been jailed for stealing £30,000 from a dementia sufferer and his sick father.
Danielle Lees-Wolfenden, 38, and her 42-year-old partner Neil Barraclough showed no emotion as Judge Peter Benson branded their crimes as “mean, wicked and cruel” after hearing how they breached the trust that had been placed in them.
Although it was accepted that the pair had initially provided legitimate care and assistance to David Roberts and his now deceased father, also called David, prosecutor Angus McDonald told Bradford Crown Court that over time they got greedy and began to take money for themselves.
The court heard that Barraclough would accompany Mr Roberts junior to bank ATMs when he withdrew cash and the couple’s activities came to light after a bank manager became suspicious about the frequent transactions and alerted the police.
Lees-Wolfenden and Barraclough, both of Broomfield Street, Queensbury, admitted theft in breach of trust at a pre-trial hearing last month and the court heard that both of them had previous convictions.
Mr McDonald said Lees-Wolfenden had 10 previous convictions for 30 offences including theft by employee, handling stolen goods and theft from the person.
Barraclough had been given a suspended prison sentence in 2008 for a cheque scam.
Mr McDonald said the prosecution took the view that thefts involved the breach of a high degree of trust and both complainants were vulnerable.
Lees-Wolfenden’s barrister Giles Bridge said she got to know the complainants through living in Queensbury and “general friendliness”.
Mr Bridge submitted that it was not a case of his client deliberately setting out to befriend someone in order to commit offences.
He said his client, who had had problems with drug abuse in the past, now wanted to move away from the area following her release from prison.
Ashok Khullar, for Barraclough, said he was tempted to commit the offences after relapsing into heroin misuse.
He said Barraclough felt regret and shame for his offending.
Judge Benson, who jailed the pair for 30 months each, said Mr Roberts jnr was particularly vulnerable because of his dementia.
“These were mean, wicked and cruel offences when you were in a substantial position of trust which you breached by exploiting the vulnerability of David Roberts jnr, in particular, simply for your own selfish financial gain,” the judge told the couple.