Theft accused claims Hartlepool care home and council ‘conspired’ against her

Lesley and Andrew Reeve arrive at Teesside Crown Court for the start of their trial.
Lesley and Andrew Reeve arrive at Teesside Crown Court for the start of their trial.

A MUM accused of stealing more than £100,000 of her godmother’s life savings broke down in tears in court as she claimed a care home and the council are “conspiring” against her.

Lesley Reeve, 56, claimed she was growing more concerned about the welfare of her 91-year-old godmother Joan Killen and said she found her with a bruised eye, broken glasses and left alone in the corridor at Queens Meadow Care Home, in Stockton Road.

The claims were made as Mrs Reeve was being cross-examinded. But despite the claims, the court heard how she, along with her husband, Andrew, 55, never once penned their concerns in a letter to the care home and say they only discussed the issue with management once, which the care home denies.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Miss Killen’s pension, and and other cash went into the couple’s current account and was spent.

By August 2011, dementia sufferer Miss Killen didn’t have enough money in her accounts to pay her fees to the care home, despite having more than £130,000 in her life savings two years earlier.

And the cash only started to be transferred back into the pensioner’s account when the couple discovered the police and council were investigating , it was claimed.

Mrs Reeve admitted it was her signature on official pension and allowance documents, but says she didn’t know which account they were going into.

Mr and Mrs Reeve admit spending Miss Killen’s life savings, but say they did so with Miss Killen’s blessing.

They say they spent the money on Miss Killen by improving her home, in Catcote Road, which was to be rented out, and their family home in Chichester Close, where they claim they were planning to move Miss Killen in if she was allowed out of care.

But the court heard how money was also spent on paying off an £11,000 Marks & Spencer store card debt and other credit card debts.

Mrs Reeve, a mum-of-two, said her and her husband had set up a meeting with Miss Killen and her solicitor as they wanted the solicitor to have control of her bank accounts, not the council. She said they wanted to move Miss Killen to another care home but the solicitor told them they would have “one hell of a fight on their hands”.

A tearful Mrs Reeve said she doesn’t understand why care home staff claim the couple didn’t speak to them about their concerns for Miss Killen. She said: “The council and the care home are conspiring against me and my husband, we have done nothing wrong.”

But Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said: “You were terrified that if the council had control of the accounts they would be able to see how you had spent all of the money.”

Mr Bean added: “I’m going to suggest that between 2009 and 2011 you were driven by greed to steal Miss Killen’s money.” Mrs Reeve replied: “We wouldn’t dream of it.”

The couple both deny four counts of theft, and the trial continues.