A charity carer stole £287,688 from 102-year-old Edith Negus and used the money to buy two houses for herself, a jury was told.
Julie Sayles, 59, made bank transfers and wrote herself into the will of vulnerable Ms Negus when her mental and physical health began to deteriorate after her 100th birthday, Hull Crown Court heard. Sayles, who ran the charity Friends for the Elderly in Bridlington, was described as domineering.
She targeted thrifty Ms Negus’s life savings buying properties in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and Prospect Mount Road, Scarborough, a jury of nine men and three women were told.
“This defendant took advantage of Edith and took from her a quarter of a million pounds in several large bank transfers and wrote for herself a way into Edith’s will for the majority of the remaining assets,” Crown barrister Robert Stevenson told the jury.
“She set up a joint bank account with Edith in the months before Edith’s death and caused Edith to put large amounts of her own money from her savings into that joint bank account. This defendant was then simply able to withdraw money from that joint bank account.
“From that she bought for herself two houses.
“She caused Edith to sign a new will in which she would no longer leave the majority of her assets to her family but to this defendant.”
He said Sayles set up a joint account with Ms Negus in January 2014 transferring her savings.
The court heard that between February and July 2014, Sayles made a number of withdrawals – of £7,688, £90,000, £40,000 and £150,000 – from the joint account.
Ms Negus had a will which left her belongings to her family although having no children she treated a niece as her own daughter.
Great niece Barbara Suter, of York, said when 14 relatives visited for the funeral – they found the front row seats full, the church was too small and there was little mention of Ms Negus in the service.
She said when she went to Ms Negus’s home the day after she died, she found the house in a state with mouse droppings on the window sill and 20 bin-liners they dare not touch. Ms Suter said: “In later years my mum and dad visited two to three times a year. They would go around and do jobs including decorating.
“I remember me and my husband dug up the roses one year and replaced them.
“She was sweetest lady I ever met. She never had a bad word about anyone.She never swore. She was lovely. She called us darling and sweet-hearts.”
After Ms Negus died in October 2014, Sayles presented two wills to a solicitor which allegedly left the majority of her belongings to Sayles. It referred to £250,000 already gifted to her as a thank-you.
Mr Stevenson said after Ms Negus died the family were allegedly told they could not gain access to the house or make funeral arrangements.
Mr Stevenson said a solicitor had concluded Ms Negus did not have the mental capacity to make a new will when Sayles had tried to have one made for her.
Sayles was eventually reported to the police after a neighbour overheard Sayles talking to Ms Negus about making a new will leaving her estate to her.
Sayles, of Sewerby Road, Bridlington, was arrested after Ms Negus’s death and denied doing anything wrong. In her police interview, she said the 102-year-old offered her money for her care and to invest in property. She said the wills were created on Ms Negus’s instructions.
Mr Stevenson asked Mrs Suter: “What was she like with money?” Ms Suter replied: “She was very tight. She never spent money. We thought she was living on bread line because of her clothes and the way she dressed. We did not realise until later that she had any money. “
She said she had known her great aunt had a will and her dad knew where it was – but she did not know its contents.
She continued: “I found the house was an absolute mess. It was dirty. There were mouse droppings on the window sill. I noticed there were two pottery Staffordshire dogs missing.”
Under cross-examination Mrs Suter confirmed she had last visited her great aunt two years before her death as she normally took her mum and dad and they were not well. She said: “Prior to that I visited two to three times a year. I took my mum and dad.”
Defence barrister Paul Byrne for Sayles said Mrs Suter had confirmed to police that other than the bin liners everything else was normal. Ms Suter said she noticed fur coats had been taken from the wardrobe before the funeral, but the hats were still there.
Asked if she knew where the Staffordshire dogs had gone, Mrs Suter said she heard they went to a friend of Ms Negus, Clive, which they were happy with.
Sayles has gone on trial denying five counts of fraud, two of concealing or converting criminal property, and one of making an article for use in fraud. The trial continues.