A SOLICITOR and his wife face imprisonment after a vulnerable elderly Anglican priest in their care was swindled out of more than £200,000.
Giles Scott, a former senior partner in a York law firm, who held legal responsibility for the affairs of the Revd Jane Waugh, aged 78, admitted taking the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, and, last week, his wife, Clare, was found guilty of money-laundering and fraud.
The couple, from Stearsby, near Easingwold, North Yorkshire, will be sentenced next month.
Teesside Crown Court heard that Mrs Scott, aged 62, met Mrs Waugh 20 years ago at All Saints’, Brandsby, North Yorkshire, where they sang in the choir. Later, as Mrs Waugh’s health failed, Mrs Scott became her carer, and Mr Scott, 63, took power of attorney for her.
But, over a period of almost six years, he methodically plundered her accounts, and those of three other vulnerable elderly clients, for money amounting to £400,000. Mrs Scott, who had denied involvement in the fraud, was found guilty of overcharging for care, groceries, and shopping, and of two charges of money laundering by moving cash into accounts to pay £8800 for a car, and a £9000 gift for her daughter. She was cleared of four charges of transferring criminal property.
Philip Standfast, prosecuting, said that the couple’s finances were in a “perilous state”: their joint-account overdraft frequently topped £10,000. “They had robbed Peter to pay Paul,” he said. In one instance, £300 a month was taken to pay for their car.
In all, Mr Scott had stolen £231,446 from the retired priest, although £123,000 has since been returned.
His wife said in court that she had no idea of transactions on their joint account, or her husband’s debts. When asked how he spent up to £5500 a month, she replied: “I thought it would probably be the mortgage, his hobbies, and wine”. One bill for a night out in a pub was £827, and, during one month in 2015, Mr Scott used his credit card to withdraw about £700 every two or three days.
Mrs Scott told the jury that the first she knew of it was three months after her husband had been sacked after admitting his offences. “I was absolutely devastated,” she said. “I didn’t sleep all night.”