Judge lashes thief who stole from his own Alzheimer’s mum and jails him for 43 months

A JUDGE described as “despicable” a Birstall man who stole £70,000 from his own mother, who has dementia.

Steven Darvill, 56, of Ashfield Road, took cash for five years from 2009 to cover debts.

Bradford Crown Court heard his mum, Hazel Reilly, 79, was left penniless, with bailiffs visiting her home.

Former surveyor Darvill, who had debts of £50,000 after losing his job and separating from his wife, was jailed for three years and seven months.

Judge Jonathan Rose told him: “Any theft is a reprehensible act but a thief who steals from his mother is disgraceful.

“The loyalty, affection and the love between a son and his mother should not have been a subject of such a breach of trust. The defendant who steals from a mother with Alzheimer’s is despicable. It is a wicked breach of trust.”

Peter Hampton, prosecuting, said Mrs Riley, of Bradford, had been looking forward to a comfortable retirement after a life’s work for the NHS.

She had kept painstaking financial records in a hand-written ledger and had savings and current accounts.

But Mrs Riley was left with so little money she could not afford to buy meals at a day care centre.

In one incident, when she opened her purse there was nothing in it but a few foreign coins.

Neighbours alerted social services after bailiffs came to the house in March last year to collect unpaid council tax.

Mrs Riley lived with and was the carer for her cousin Margaret Baxter, 75, who has learning difficulties and hearing problems.

Her other son, Leslie Darvill, of Northampton, trusted his brother to look after their mother’s finances.

Scheming Darvill denied taking £69,163 but changed his plea to guilty on the day the case was due to go to trial in April this year.

Mr Hampton said: “Direct debits were uncovered and balances had been emptied.”

Andrew Walker, for Darvill, said: “He is disgusted with himself and his behaviour towards his mother.”

Judge Rose was scathing in his criticism and told Darvill: “It is not only the trust of your mother that has been breached, but the trust of your brother.

“He believed she was being properly cared for by you. All the while you pleaded ignorance to what you did. You lied.”

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