Two Northamptonshire brothers tricked a confused pensioner into leaving thousands of pounds in a series of drops at a bus stop and in a lay-by near her home after telling her the money was for legal services, a jury heard.
The woman, who was in her 80s and suffering from the early signs of dementia, hadn’t told her family what she was doing, court heard.
As a result, it’s alleged that over seven months she withdrew nearly £74,000 from her bank account and, following instructions she would receive over the phone, left huge sums of cash at the two locations near her home in the village of Blunham in Beds.
Luton Crown Court heard today (Weds) it was only when the woman’s bank manager in Bedford noticed large sums of cash were being regularly withdrawn from the account, that the thefts were discovered.
Nat West Bank manager Gavin Moss said: “I asked her what the withdrawals were for and it was along the lines of: ‘I have been silly’.”
He went on “I asked if her family knew about the withdrawals and she said ‘No’.”
The woman’s family were alerted and then Bedfordshire Police. Days later brothers Francis and Hughie Doherty were arrested.
Francis, 36, of Gipsy Lane, Irchester, and his 31 year old brother Hughie of Newton Road, Rushden, plead not guilty to the theft of £73,700 from the elderly woman between June of 2010 and February of 2011.
They deny a second charge of attempting to steal £15,000 from her in March 2011 on the day of their arrest.
Ian McLoughlin, prosecuting, said at the time of the alleged offences the victim was in her early 80s and living alone in the village of Blunham in Beds.
He said: “She has been the victim of a mean trick by these defendants which has resulted in the loss of £73,700 and was only stopped by the intervention of her bank manager.”
The jury was told she was suffering from the early signs of dementia and, in the summer of 2010, received a telephone call from a man calling himself Oliver who spoke with a posh accent and said he was a solicitor.
The court heard the man claimed he could help her get money back that she had lost as a result of having her driveway resurfaced back in 2004.
Mr McLoughlin said the woman was told by the man on the phone she would have to pay for legal services and as a result was persuaded to cash in insurance polices.
The jury heard that in the months that followed she regularly got cash out of her bank account which she put in envelopes and left them at either a bus stop in Blunham or at a nearby lay-by.
The prosecutor said: “She didn’t confide in her family or say what was going on. No legal work was being carried out for her. She was being taken for the money. All the money was stolen from her.”
The jury heard on July 30, 2010, following instructions down the phone from ‘Oliver’, she withdrew £12,500. A month later she took out £4,200. Eleven days later a further £7,000 was withdrawn and in December of that year she got out £12,000.
In early January 2011 she took out £4,000 followed by another £7,000 on February 10. Then on February 11 she withdrew £15,000 and on February 14 she got a further £12,000 from her bank.
Mr McLoughlin said on one occasion when she left the money as instructed at one of the two locations, she returned to the spot moments later to find it had gone.
The jury were told that in her “confused and naive way” she thought she was paying for legal services that might help her get some of her money back.
The court heard by March 2011 Bedfordshire Police had been alerted by the woman’s family about what had been going on.
As a result, police were at her home on March 15 when she once more received a call from ‘Oliver’ telling her she should go to the bank that day and withdraw £15,000.
That morning, said Mr McLoughlin, a green Range Rover with three men inside was seen by the police to drive on two occasions slowly past the woman’s home.
Not long afterwards it was involved in a short police chase before stopping.
Inside the car were the two brothers and a third man and a Lurcher dog was in the back. Also in the car was a mobile phone which had been smashed up.
Mr McLouglin said a police sniffer dog and its handler later followed the route the green Range Rover had taken during the short chase and as a result three pieces of paper were found by the roadside, one of which had the name of the pensioner written on it together with her phone number.
The prosecutor said a finger print from Francis Doherty’s left forefinger was later found on it together with another print from the third man who had been in the car that day.
And, the jury was told, when the smashed up mobile phone was analysed it was discovered that it had been used to make 13 calls to the woman’s home that day.
The case continues.