Suffolk man who left 93-year-old mother in squalor while he spent her pension avoids jail
- Credit: central news
A pensioner who left his elderly mother wallowing in her own filth while he spent her pension on himself was today spared jail after the court was told stopping him going to the pub would be sufficient punishment.
Brian Matthews, 75, of Old Yarmouth Road in Broome, near Bungay, left Winifred Matthews, now 98, without hot water, central heating, a telephone or even a working toilet even though he was her legal guardian.
The floors of her home in Cranham, Upminster, were coated in urine and excrement, as was her bedding, and she had started using torn newspaper as toilet roll.
Matthews escaped with a two-year sentence suspended for two years after being convicted of two counts of fraud for spending his mother's pensions and savings on himself and while spending next to nothing on her.
He was also convicted of one count of neglect after a 10-day trial in January.
You may also want to watch:
Noel Casey, for Matthews, said: 'This (sentence) can probably best be addressed by the court in seeking and enforcing compensation and a curfew order – it may stop the defendant visiting the village pub in the evenings for a few months, something I know he's partial to.'
The court heard Matthews would leave his mother bottles of sherry so she was almost always in a drunken state.
- 1 Roads flooded on east coast after heavy rain
- 2 Machinery sale marks end of family's 100-year farming history
- 3 Two Norfolk villages named among most beautiful to visit in England
- 4 Man put hidden camera in bedroom to spy on wife
- 5 Robbers knock out boy, 14, and steal trainers from his feet
- 6 'An insult - Matt Hancock accused over secret visit to crumbling hospital
- 7 Appeal for rescuers to come forward following Sea Palling incident
- 8 Woman taken to hospital following crash on A146
- 9 Driver taken to hospital after four-car crash on key road into Norwich
- 10 Gypsy and travellers await planning appeal result
Mrs Matthews lived in conditions of poverty for at least three years before her niece, who had lost contact with her aunt for several years, alerted social services.
Rosalind Reynolds and her husband Jonathan Chapman were horrified by the conditions Mrs Matthews were living in after being invited to visit her by David Matthews, the defendant's son, in early 2012.
Ms Reynolds told the court she had been really excited to see her aunt after such a long time but had been horrified at how filthy her house was.
Mrs Matthews was entitled to a pension from Barking and Dagenham Council and had held a senior role in the finance department before retiring. She also had a government pension and a widow's pension from her husband Stanley following his death in 2000.
Police began investigating Matthews shortly after his mother was admitted to a Romford care home in February 2013, and was eventually arrested and charged with fraud and neglect in January 2014.
Between 2011 and 2013 Matthews made out checks to himself in his mother's cheque book totalling around £18,000 and got her to sign them.
He also changed the details on her state pension so that it was paid directly into his bank account.
It is thought that he spent at least £19,680 of his mother's money on himself between January 2010 and July 2013.
In his police interview, Matthews said Ms Reynolds wanted his mother's money and had her put in a home just to spite him.
Matthews told social services that he visited his mother once every three weeks and brought her bread and milk when he came.
He said he had organised meals on wheels to bring her a hot lunch and a sandwich in the evening and claimed she had refused to allow him to organise a professional carer for her.
He denied neglecting his mother, and even threatened to take legal action against Ms Reynolds for upsetting Mrs Matthews by 'interfering'.
Giving evidence, he admitted that by 2010 the house wasn't in good shape, saying: 'It had deteriorated and it was getting steadily worse.'
Matthews was warned by social services in June 2012 that he needed to have the telephone reconnected, replace his mother's broken fridge and her soiled mattress and have the central heating repaired.
When a social worker checked in August and again in December, Mrs Matthews was still without heating or a working phone.
Matthews was also investigated for allegedly leaving his mother alone in her house, in bed, without food, water or medication after she spent a few weeks in St George's Hospital, Hornchurch, following a fall.
Matthews eventually had his power of attorney over his mother revoked in April 2013 by the Court of Protection.
Judge Bernard Doherty told Matthews: 'Winnifred Matthews was a woman who, in her younger years, was immaculately turned out, highly independent and even capable of being a formidable person, but at the time of the indictment she was clearly very vulnerable and needed help.
'You only spent the bare minimum to keep her alive, the evidence is that she was living in absolute squalor at the time.' '
Matthews was ordered to pay £20,000 compensation to his mother and £5,000 prosecution costs.
He was also put under a tagged curfew between 7pm and 6am for the next six months, and barred from contacting his cousin Ms Reynolds and her husband.
He still has the right to make supervised visits to his mother at her care home in Romford.