A MAN took power of attorney over his dementia sufferer mother’s affairs and spent almost £30,000 of her money instead of paying for her care.
Lee Wood, 52, of Oakley Way, Bream, near Lydney, admitted two charges of fraud totalling £29,829 between September 2009 and April 2011 at Gloucester Crown Court.
The court heard dad of three Wood did not pay the bills for mother Connie's care at Sedbury Park nursing home, near Chepstow, and instead 'dissipated' almost £30,000 on his own debts and lifestyle - including a Center Parcs holiday.
The court heard Wood, a dry wall liner, was in financial difficulties at the time because of the economic downturn and a lack of work.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC said it was 'difficult to imagine a greater breach of trust'.
"This went on over a considerable period of time," he said. "Your unfortunate mother developed Alzheimer's and needed protection.
"What is disturbing is that within a very short period after her money came into your account you started to dissipate it not on her care but largely settling your own debts and the like."
He said he accepted that Wood is genuinely ashamed and remorseful.
Prosecutor David Maunder said that although Gloucestershire county council paid the majority of Connie Wood's nursing home fees, from the outset Wood had a duty to reimburse them and take over the fees when his mother's house was sold.
Wood was also supposed to hand over her £102 a week pension to the home but did not do so.
Because of his infrequent visits and the fact that he only ever sent her £110 for 'pocket money' it was left to staff to buy toiletries and other extras for her.
Her home in Lydney was sold for £80,000 in September 2009.
Wood used £13,443 of the money to pay off his own mortgage and he paid £17,556 to the county council to re-imburse them for fees they had paid up till then. He also paid £5,100 that he owed to the home.
Stephen Thomas, defending, said "He is remorseful, deeply ashamed and embarassed. He was trying to make ends meet and failing.
"This was not a family living a luxurious lifestyle - they were robbing Peter to pay Paul. The circumstances were very difficult."
He was given a two year jail sentence suspended for 2 years. He was also ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC told him the only thing that saved him from immediate jail was that his wife Karen, a dental nurse, had been badly injured in a car crash last March and relies on him for her care.