Daughter stole from dementia dad

A DAUGHTER frittered away more than £44,000 of her dad’s savings after he was put into a home suffering from dementia.

Community fundraiser Janette Maddox was named power of attorney over Thomas Gouge’s finances when he fell ill.

But the 49-year-old committed a “breach of the highest degree of trust” by using her elderly father’s cash for shopping trips, Durham Crown Court heard.

Judge Christopher Prince was told that in February 2005, a deposit of £31,196 was made into the 77-year-old’s account after the sale of his home in Bedford Place, Peterlee.

Because his savings exceeded £20,000, he had to start paying for care, but despite the lump sum, his pension and other funds, his rent later ran into arrears.

This led to Maddox, of Balliol Close, Peterlee, losing power of attorney to Durham County Council and sparked investigations.

The court was told Maddox would withdraw around £200 at a time and spend it on shopping for her family, with the account drained to the point where it was hundreds of pounds in the red.

Maddox is today starting a 16-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to theft of £44,039 between January 2005 and December 2006.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said: “She did make admissions and was interviewed at some length and basically said it was done for her own needs and wasn’t sure how much she had spent, but her intention was to pay it back and was just borrowing it.

“When asked if her father had been aware what he would think, she said he would be a bit angry and would make her pay it back.

“The defendant has a brother and sister and they were not aware she had been taking money from their father’s accounts.”

The court was told Maddox’s brother was also due to benefit from inheritance, but it was said at the close of the case that she had no means to pay back the funds.

Paul Abrahams, mitigating, said Maddox had been under financial pressure when her husband went on sick pay after injuring his hand.

He offered references detailing how she had raised funds for karate and craft groups and said since the case came to light, she had been disgraced in the eyes of her community and lost her job.

Mr Abrahams said: “It became habitual and she was using the money to get by, there has been no lavish lifestyle.

“Her father doesn’t realise but she must know when she looks at her father she has broken the bond between the two of them which she cannot possibly repair.”

Mr Gouge was first cared for in the Craigellachie Care Home, in Thorpe Road, Easington Village, from November 2004 until its closure, when he then moved to Cedar Court, in Deneside, Seaham.