A GREEDY couple have been told they can expect to be jailed after a jury found them guilty of wiping out a 91-year-old dementia sufferer’s life savings in two years of high spending.
Lesley Reeve, 56, and husband Andrew, 55, spent all but £3,000 of her godmother Joan Killen’s £130,000 after the pensioner allowed him to become a signatory on her bank accounts.
The couple cleared debts, bought a car and spent thousands on electrical goods and presents for themselves, Teesside Crown Court heard.
As the jury delivered their guilty verdict after a two-week trial, Mrs Reeve collapsed in the dock and had to be supported by family as she left the courtroom.
The couples sons, aged 24 and 27, sobbed in the public gallery as the verdicts were delivered.
The court heard the pair also spent some of the cash on converting the garage of their home in Chichester Close, in the Fens area of Hartlepool, into a wet room and gym, but told police the work was really to make it into a bedroom for “Aunty Joan”.
The couple maintained that story during the trial, claiming Miss Killen was “ecstatic” when they asked her to move in, and saying she had told them to spend her money how they liked.
Mr Reeve, giving evidence, claimed it was a coincidence that when police arrested the couple, the gym contained a treadmill and exercise ball, and maintained the conversion was intended for Miss Killen, who is still alive.
That story was rejected by the jury, who convicted them of stealing £95,000 in savings, and theft of rent money they made from getting a tenant to move into her property when she went into a care home after a fall.
Mrs Reeve was convicted of stealing £2,940 in pension payments.
The couple were cleared of stealing a winter fuel payment of £150.
While they were spending up to £2,500 of the godmother’s savings a week at one point in 2009, the Reeves were sending her a weekly allowance of just £9.13 when she was in the care home, the court heard.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton granted the couple bail to allow reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing but warned them to expect a custodial sentence.
Police will now launch an investigation to claw back the money through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Dave Turnbull from the Cleveland Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “This result has brought a satisfactory conclusion to the first stage of what has proven to be a very difficult investigation.
“As the victim was unable to give evidence, it had to be proved by other means and credit for this must go to the investigating officer, Detective Constable Rachel Graham.
“Mr and Mrs Reeve took full advantage of a vulnerable lady and have spent her money entirely for their own benefit, which has left the victim with little left.
“We will now commence an investigation to recover the proceeds of the crime.”