A man who stole an elderly neighbour’s life savings and squandered the money on drugs has been jailed.
Paul Collins (21/10/1956), of Downham Grove, Prestwich, admitted fraud by abuse of position and theft.
On Friday 22 June 2012, at Bolton Crown Court, he was sentenced to 28 months in prison.
Collins met the victim, now 89, in early 2010, as part of his involvement in a HomeWatch scheme.
In May 2011, police were made aware of concerns from the local authority in relation to the victim’s finances.
The subsequent investigation found that:
- The pensioner had trusted Collins and given him her bank cards, pin numbers and other documentation for three bank accounts after he said he would look after her financial interests and funeral plans.
- In August 2010, her previous will had been changed to make Collins executor and sole beneficiary of her estate in the event of her death.
- She was admitted to hospital towards the end of the year and while she was still in hospital recovering, in February 2011, the Lasting Power of Attorney Document was stamped and authorised, allowing Paul Collins to act on her behalf over her property and financial affairs.
In January 2010 the victim was found to have three bank accounts which held her life savings totalling £61,205.67.
On 4 July 2011 there was just £554.79 left.
Collins admitted stealing £60,650.88, just £6,000 of which he spent on the victim. The remainder he spent on drugs and items for his family.
Police Constable Heather Jackson, of the Vulnerable Adult’s Unit at Bury, said: “The victim gave Collins access to her finances on the sole understanding that any money spent was for her benefit and in her best interests. Tragically, just £6,000 of the £60,000 systematically stolen by Collins met those criteria.
"This was a calculated fraud resulting in the loss of the life savings of a vulnerable 89-year-old woman who believed Collins was a good friend who had her best interests at heart. He has blown her life savings and left her penniless.
“This despicable breach of trust has had a significant and detrimental impact on her health and I hope she finds some comfort now he has been jailed.
"Greater Manchester Police robustly investigates cases where the most vulnerable members of our community are targeted and we will seek to put all offenders before the courts.
“This was complex and protracted enquiry but we worked closely with partnership agencies throughout the investigation resulting in this successful conclusion.”
Divisional Commander of Bury, Chief Superintendent Jon Rush, said: “Collins acted in isolation and his offending in no way reflects the excellent work being carried out by HomeWatch schemes across Bury.
“We take great pride in working with local residents and I hope his actions do not deter others from engaging in similar schemes, which prove an invaluable tool for sharing crime prevention information and ensure partnership working between police and the local community.”