COUNTY NEWS: Woman jailed for defrauding elderly Sussex victim
A woman who stole an estimated Â£240,000 from an elderly Sussex man after taking over his life has been jailed for five years.
Dawn Weston, 58, also known as Saytch, manipulated her victim for her own gain, but at Lewes Crown Court on Friday (February 24) her callous criminality caught up with her.
Weston first appeared before a court in February last year, turning up in a wheelchair and claiming she was too unwell to stand trial.
But her attempts to evade justice failed, and following a two-and-a-half-week trial in December, during which she made her victim go through the ordeal of giving evidence, she was finally sent to prison by Judge Paul Tain.
Police said Weston was charged with six separate offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and convicted of five.
The offences took place between November 2011 and December 2013 in Bexhill.
The court heard how she had befriended her victim, who was in ill health and alone without family, claiming to be his carer and persuading him to grant her power of attorney over his finances.
She also got him to change his will in her favour and to sign over his home to her, which she later sold.
Weston, of London Road, Hassocks, moved her victim away from his home town and placed him in a care home miles from any friends or familiar surroundings.
She failed to pay his fees regularly and eventually he faced eviction from the home.
However, concerned care home and social services staff became suspicious and raised the alarm with Sussex Police, which began a criminal investigation into Weston’s activities.
Detective Constable Ian Dearling, said: “This was a calculated crime against a particularly vulnerable person for which Weston has shown no remorse.
“She claimed to have had the victim’s best interests in mind at all times, when in fact, over a period of time, she isolated him and took control of his finances, and then his life.
“We shall never know exactly how much money she managed to take from him, but with his house we estimate it was in the region of £240,000.”
DC Dearling described the investigation as ‘protracted’ but said it had eventually been possible to prove Weston had abused her position of responsibility and stolen from her victim.
He added: “Sadly, some elderly people in society with no one to look after them are increasingly being targeted by unscrupulous family, friends or individuals.
“Care home staff and staff from our partner agency, East Sussex Adult Social Care, did an invaluable job in bringing this case to our attention and subsequently safeguarding the victim.
“While he is deeply distressed about what happened, I am pleased to say that he is safe and well.”
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