Judge Orders Son To Repay Money Stolen From Elderly Mother

When 66-year-old Richard Willis discovered that he was not going to receive the bulk of his mother’s estate, he set about plundering her life savings while she was still alive.

Following the death of his father, he manoeuvred himself into the position of his mother’s attorney and over a period of four years stole an estimated £700,000 from her.

He took £375,000 in two cash withdrawals from her accounts over a period of two months. He sold her retirement flat for £199,000 and moved her into a care home, using only £29,000 of the sale proceeds towards her care costs.

He used the money to buy luxuries for himself, indulging his love of shooting with shotguns and a 4×4 vehicle as well as buying and furnishing a cottage and treating himself to sports cars.

At the time of her death, his mother had just two sets of clothes.

Willis was jailed for six years in 2015 after being found guilty of four counts of fraud.

Passing sentence, Judge Mayo, said: “There was no more than a veneer of care shown towards your mother. It was an appalling breach of trust.

“You deluded yourself on a massive scale. You firmly believed that you were intended to receive your mother’s fortune.”

He has now been released on licence, but a judge sitting at Proceeds of Crime Act hearing has ordered him to repay £566,365 within three months or return to prison for a further 40 months.

Judge Rupert Mayo said of Willis: “Money, as it became available to him, burned a hole in his pocket. Whenever Willis had access to his mother’s accounts he would go off and buy antiques, guns, cars and, via credit card, very nice food and wines.”

The confiscation order is for a sum considered to be recoverable, including £297,000 from the sale of his mother’s cottage, £220,000 from hidden assets, £30,000 from guns and £8,500 from vehicles.

Sue Lyon, Northamptonshire Police financial investigator, said: “Willis was driven by greed to make money and lead an easy, lavish lifestyle, but this legislation allows us to go after him even when he was released from prison.

“POCA legislation is a powerful tool that police can use to claw-back money from criminals and it sends a message to others that a life of crime does not pay.

“This is one of our biggest confiscation orders and, thanks to the investigation, the money recovered will go back to the estate of the late Audrey Willis and then be distributed according to the original terms of the will.”

Willis’ brothers are set to benefit from the recovered funds. Their parents chose to leave Willis less from their estate, fearing he would waste it.

Do you think the Proceeds of Crime Act will be used more frequently in future to recover funds taken fraudulently from vulnerable adults?

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