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The newspapers have recently reported several incidences of the exploitation of vulnerable elderly people. In one such case, Stevenage care worker Jo-ann Tharle has been jailed for the theft of savings of more than £10,000 from an elderly man in her care.
Ted Tyler, of Datchworth Village in Hertfordshire, was 83 when his main carer, Ms Tharle, set up a savings account in his name and transferred his £14,000 savings into it. She also obtained his debit card and used it for her own purposes. In all, a total of £10,650 was stolen on 35 separate occasions between 13 May and 30 October 2008.
Giving evidence at St Albans Crown Court, Marion Cooper, a friend of Mr Tyler, said that Ms Tharle began to drive a wedge between Mr Tyler and his niece Veronica, who used to see him every day. According to Ms Cooper, Ms Tharle told Veronica not to keep seeing Mr Tyler because it upset him. After this, she stayed away.
Veronica had been named as the sole recipient of Mr Tyler’s estate when he died, but Ms Tharle arranged for the RSPCA to become the beneficiary and hoped that the small sum that remained in his account would not be noticed.
The deception was only uncovered after Mr Tyler’s death in November 2008, when his executor, examining his bank account, noted many large transactions that were out of character.
Sentencing Ms Tharle to 18 months in prison, Judge Martin Griffith described the crime as ‘a grievous breach of trust’.
If you are concerned that a vulnerable member of your family may be being exploited in a similar way, we can advise you of steps you can take to protect them. Contact Peter Critchell.