A HUSBAND admitted spending more than £53,000 of a 91-year-old’s cash in just four months after taking control of her life savings – but insisted he didn’t act dishonestly.
Andrew Reeve, 55, and his wife Lesley, 56, claim dementia sufferer and lifelong family friend Joan Killen gave the couple her blessing to spend her money and said she told them she would “enjoy watching them spend the money”.
Mrs Killen’s account balance plummeted from £130,000 to just £3,000 in less than two years, including a spell between July 7 and November 9 in 2009 when the pair, of Chichester Close, Hartlepoool, splashed out £53,650.
Mr and Mrs Reeve, who say Mrs Killen was part of the family, claim they had asked the pensioner to move in with them and spent the money on improvements to their home as well as Mrs Killen’s so her house could be rented out.
But the money spent on the home improvements only came to around £15,000, and the other £38,000 in that four month period was spent on paying off credit card and store card debts as well as the couple buying items for themselves, Teesside Crown Court heard.
The jury was told how the only transaction from the couple’s accounts back into Mrs Killen’s accounts came after the couple were made aware that the police and Hartlepool Council’s safeguarding team were investigating the case.
Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said: “You and your wife know that what you were doing was dishonest.”
Mr Reeve replied: “If it was dishonest we would have tried to hide it.”
After Mr Reeve had stood in the dock, his wife was cross-examined. She revealed how Mrs Killen had been a life-long family friend.
Mrs Killen is the godmother of Mrs Reeve, and Mrs Reeve said Mrs Killen referred to her as “the daughter she has never had”. She said she was “devastated” when her and her husband were arrested.
“I was absolutely devastated,” she said.
“We have always been upstanding citizens, we have brought our boys up to know the difference between right and wrong.”
Mrs Reeve said she never knew exactly how much was in Mrs Killen’s accounts, but said the couple were going to receive it through her will.
She said: “Auntie Joan just told us to spend it how we wanted.”
Although the couple claimed they were converting the garage in their home to a room for Mrs Killen, the planning application stated it was for a gym and police discovered a treadmill and training ball in the room.
But Mrs Reeve told the court the equipment was only in that room before it was being moved to a physio’s clinic where her son had set up a personal training business. The couple deny four counts of theft, and the trial continues.