A MAN accused of stealing more than £100,000 from a dementia sufferer told a jury she had given him and his wife full permission to spend it on upgrading their home.
Andrew Reeve, 55, is standing trial at Teesside Crown Court where he and his wife Lesley are charged with raiding her 91-year-old godmother Joan Killen’s life savings and spending most of the cash on themselves.
Giving evidence yesterday, Reeve, said he and his wife discussed using Miss Killen’s money to upgrade their home so she could come and live with them.
He said she also gave them permission to renovate her home after she went into care and also clear credit card debts of over £12,000 and to buy a new car for their son.
Reeve, who works for an engineering company, told the trial how he and his wife asked to borrow cash from Miss Killen in early 2009 because when they were experiencing money problems and had missed a mortgage payment.
He said she gave them a £5,000 cheque and later gave them £6,000 from her Post Office account towards their debts.
Reeve said it was not discussed, but they would have paid her back if Miss Killen asked.
He said they asked her to go and live with them at their home in Chichester Close, Hartlepool, around April 2009 and she gladly accepted.
Shortly afterwards, Reeve was made a co-signatory of her current bank account. He said it was because she was struggling to manage her finances.
He also accepted consolidating all her savings accounts into her current account.
Reeve said it was to make managing her money easier.
Numerous transfers of money from her current account to the Reeves’ joint bank account followed.
Paul Abrahams, defending, asked: “Was she aware you were spending this amount of money from her savings?”
Reeve, 55, said: “She had given us her say so that we could spend whatever we needed to spend to get the house done.”
He said he could not remember if he gave Miss Killen regular updates about what her money was being spent on but insisted they did have her permission.
“She said ‘it’s coming to you anyway, I want you to get the benefit while I’m alive. Spend what you need to spend as you see fit’.”
Dealing with plans for the conversion of their garage which described a gym and wet room Reeve insisted the work was actually for a bedroom for Miss Killen.
Explaining why he had said it was for a gym he said: “The builder suggested if we state it was going to be a gym we were more likely to get the plans passed.
“Unfortunately, Auntie Joan never ever got to come to stay at our house.”
He said her mental capacity at that time was “fine”.
At around the same time the work was competed Miss Killen had a fall and after a spell in hospital went into a care home.
When asked why Reeve had removed safety equipment from Miss Killen’s home including a stair lift, he said it was to allow for refurbishmets and that the lifeline system could simply be plugged back in if she did return home.
He and Lesley Reeve, 56, deny four counts of theft. The trial continues on Monday.