Wellingborough fraudster stole £120,000 meant for mum's care home fees

A wicked Wellingborough woman fraudulently splurged using money that was meant to pay for her elderly mother's care home costs.

Thursday, 27th September 2018, 2:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th September 2018, 2:14 pm
Alison Rice has been jailed. NNL-180926-150310005

Alison Rice, 51, of Westfield Road, briefly looked after her mother as a carer after her father died in 2015.

Rice, who was made lasting power of attorney, and her three siblings agreed that the family home would be sold and that the proceeds, about £130,000, would be put to one side to pay for their mother’s care home costs.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Northampton Crown Court heard that the money should have covered care home fees until autumn 2019, when the level of savings would have dropped below the £23,000 threshold and the local authority would have had to help.

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But the level of savings dropped to the threshold level in early 2017.

Prosecuting, Andrew Peet said: “Because the money had been run down to such an extent, there was a time where [her] mother’s place at the care home was in jeopardy.”

An investigation into her bank accounts began and there was certain spending that ‘cried off the page as simply not right’ over a period of two years.

She paid off her son’s university debts, bought her husband a new car and paid for season tickets at Northampton Saints costing in excess of £3,000.

She also forked out for two holidays to the US, including one to Las Vegas, with one payment of £1,878 to Sundance Helicopters US believed to fund a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon.

She also bought high value retail items, petrol, shopping and car insurance as well as taking out a total of £10,500 from cash machines.

Pictures on Rice’s personal Facebook page show her and her family watching games at Franklin’s Gardens.

Under one of her profile pictures dated July 2017, she said: “Nearly holiday time again.”

Rice, a risk assessor at Barclays, used her position to transfer money from the account with the house funds into either her own personal account or her joint account.

The total taken was just under £120,000.

Mr Peet said Rice became lasting power of attorney because of her experience at work.

He said: “Her siblings must have thought she was good with money.”

When she was arrested in November 2017 she initially gave no comment answers to police before pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position and theft earlier this month.

Mr Peet added: “She told the probation officer she did not expect to be caught until her mum died.”

Impact statements by two of Rice’s brothers were also read out by Mr Peet.

One said: “Mum is a decent lady. I cannot believe she has done this to her.”

He added that their father would be turning in his grave.

Another brother said: “The worst thing is that we all trusted Alison.”

Mitigating, James Smith-Wilds said Rice found herself in financial difficulties and borrowed money from her mother’s account.

But when she did not fix her financial difficulties she borrowed again.

He said: “She got deeper and deeper and deeper into the desperate situation she found herself in.”

He added that Rice has made a repayment of £5,400 and is ashamed by her actions.

He said: “She does appear to be genuinely remorseful.

“It would be fair to use her own words [in that] she is devastated by how she has behaved and deeply ashamed.”

Rice sobbed in the dock as she was jailed for two years.

She will spend half of that in custody before being eligible for parole and will face a later hearing over a confiscation order.

Sentencing, His Honour Judge Fowler said the offences were unpleasant and that he could not ignore Rice’s luxury splurges.

He said: “The fact that some of the money went towards your son’s university debts is something that was chosen by you.

“But it seems to me that the expenditure on what are clearly expensive and luxury items is something that cannot be ignored.”