“Wicked and cruel” Queensbury couple who stole £30,000 must pay just £1


A Queensbury couple who were jailed for stealing £30,000 from a vulnerable father and son have been ordered to pay back just £1 each.

An investigation into the financial affairs of Danielle Lees-Wolfenden and her partner Neil Barraclough has revealed that the pair currently have no available assets which could be used to pay compensation, but they could still be ordered to hand over more money in the future.

Lees-Wolfenden, 38, and her 42-year-old partner were jailed in January after Judge Peter Benson branded their crimes “mean, wicked and cruel”.

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 MacDonald 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 and the court heard in January 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.

The couple were back in the dock at Bradford Crown Court this morning (Fri) for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act and Mr MacDonald confirmed that the pair’s combined benefit from criminal conduct was just over £38,000.

Judge Mark Savill ordered both defendants to pay a nominal amount of £1, but Mr MacDonald asked for a direction that if any further money became available it would be used as compensation for the complainant in the case.

Lees-Wolfenden and Barraclough were both taken back into custody following the brief hearing.