Hartlepool man gambled away mother's life savings in £65,000 theft

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A son stole more than £65,000 from his dementia-stricken mother to fund his gambling addiction.

Dominic Wilkinson, 55, transferred money from her bank account into his own after the sale of her house.

Teesside Crown Court heard he had power of attorney and sold his mother’s house for £157,000 in August 2019 while she went to live in a private residential care home.

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But by June 2020, Wilkinson contacted Hartlepool Borough Council asking for financial assistance towards her care home fees as her savings had dropped to just £8,000.

The defendant placed 70 bets with Coral bookmakers in Hartlepool between August 2019 and March 2020.The defendant placed 70 bets with Coral bookmakers in Hartlepool between August 2019 and March 2020.
The defendant placed 70 bets with Coral bookmakers in Hartlepool between August 2019 and March 2020.

The local authority’s care services manager was suspicious and reported the matter to the police.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said: “It was apparent that large sums of money had been transferred from Mrs Wilkinson’s account to the defendant’s bank account and further that there were numerous suspicious payments to Coral bookmakers in Hartlepool.”

A subsequent investigation revealed 70 payments from Wilkinson’s account to Coral between August 25, 2019, and March 13, 2020.

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All together he stole £65,700. When challenged, he claimed all transactions were at his mother’s request including placing large horse racing bets.

But it was pointed out that many were late at night when Mrs Wilkinson would not have had access to her money.

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The court heard Mrs Wilkinson, who has since died, had to change care homes as a result of her son’s actions and that the council pursued Wilkinson for four years over £78,000 in outstanding care home fees.

Wilkinson, of Rillston Close, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to theft at an earlier appearance.

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John Crawford, defending, said Wilkinson had “genuine and heartfelt remorse” and he was under “immense strain” at the time due to his mother’s health.

The judge, Recorder Fiona Davies, said there had been a high breach of trust although she could spare him immediate prison as he had repaid quite a lot of the money, has taken steps to address his gambling and had no previous convictions.

He was sentenced to two years’ in jail, which was suspended for two years, plus 300 hours unpaid work and a three-month tagged curfew.

Jill Harrison, the council’s executive director of adult and community-based services, said “this was an appalling case” and added: "We will also continue to pursue all avenues for obtaining from Mr Wilkinson the outstanding care home fees.”