THE elder brother of a Newport man who stole almost £50,000 of his mother’s charity legacy has condemned the sentence handed down to Stephen Watkins as too lenient.

Leslie Watkins, 63, said he believed his brother should have been locked up for at least three years after he abused his power of attorney over Patricia Watkins’ money while she was in a care home suffering from dementia.

Mr Watkins said: “I just can’t understand why he did what he did. To rip your mum off is the worst thing in the world as far as I’m concerned.”

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Watkins wrongly withdrew £47,663 over a period of more than four years from July 2007 to February 2012 and was given a two year prison sentence, half of which will be served in custody and the other in the community.

Leslie Watkins said: “He should have got a minimum of three years as far as I’m concerned. We could have lived with him being in jail for two years.”

Now living in western Germany, Mr Watkins said finding out about the crime had split the family into opposing sides.

The crime only came to light after their mother’s death, when Watkins, 58, from Aberthaw Drive, confessed to taking some of the money.

But his brother said he had suspected something was wrong on visits to the UK: “When I came over from Germany the first thing I did was go and see my mum, although she didn’t know who I was. She needed new wigs and glasses. I said to my brother, ‘Mum needs some stuff, can you arrange it?’

“He said she didn’t need anything, she’s in a home. I thought , ‘I don’t like this – something is wrong.’”

Stephen Watkins had pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud on January 10. Although another brother had power of attorney Watkins was the only one actively controlling the account, with a debit card, cash card and cheque book in his name.

Watkins claimed only a portion of this was for his own use with his barrister Claire Pickthall telling the court he began using the money after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and he gave up employment to become her carer.

She said the items purchased were not “frivolous” but everyday expenses like car repairs or insurance.

Patrica Watkins made a will which stated specific items of value to be given to individuals but for the balance of her estate to be distributed between the NSPCC, the RSPCA and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Leslie Watkins described his mother as “a woman who would do anything for anybody and never look for anything in return. She was on the go from early morning until midnight.

“She has been gone for two years, but it still hurts. “

He added he believed there was only around £3500 left of her money which would be donated to charity, adding: “It’s not much, but it’s something.”