A mother and daughter swindled an elderly infirm spinster, who employed them as her carers, out of £230,000 - even remortgaging her house after emptying her accounts, a court heard.
Maria Santos, 58, and Lucinda Johnson, 38, wrote themselves cheques for £5,000 a time, obtained a £67,000 equity release on the octogenarian’s Harrow apartment and even got themselves included in her will, the jury were told.
Sadly Audrey Evans, of Woodgrange Court, Woodgrange Close died, aged 89 years-old in 2015, but the Harrow Crown Court jury still heard from her via a police video-recorded interview she gave a year before her death.
Santos, of Haydock Green, Northolt and Johnson, of Westbury Avenue, Southall have both pleaded not guilty to five counts of fraud by abuse of position between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012.
The charges include the equity release, plus £32,000 from LloydsTSB; £77,000 from Nationwide; £13,522 from Bank of Scotland and £41,000 from the Halifax.
Prosecutor Mr. Richard Hearnden told the court: “The case concerns a pensioner who had her hard-earned money stolen from her by two people she thought she could trust, carers, home-helps.
“The stealing was carried out in a number of ways, including equity release that allowed borrowing against the value of Ms Evans’ home and money she had in savings accounts was also taken.
“She trusted these defendants and they abused that trust to make gains for themselves.”
Miss Evan, who was engaged to be married in the 1980’s until her fiancé sadly died, had bone-weakening condition osteoporosis and needed a Zimmer-frame to get about.
She privately-employed Santos and Johnson to get her up in the morning and put her to bed, plus prepare meals and do her shopping and cleaning.
“She had a number of bank accounts and they ran down the balances and by 2011 more money was needed,” added Mr. Hearnden.
“The defendants were behind a plan to increase the amount of money they got from Miss Evans by equity release and the application form was filled-in almost certainly by Santos, who was the contact on the form.
“Ten thousand pounds was being withdrawn per month from her LloydsTSB account and there were ATM withdrawals of one thousand pounds a time and spending in restaurants and High Street shops.”
The jury were told the pair wrote cheques totalling £29,000 ‘to cash’ usually in £5,000 chunks. “This pattern was accompanied by a five hundred pound cash withdrawal.
“You cannot ignore the fairly large, substantial spending in shops and restaurants, plus a £9,400 car purchased by Johnson.
“Miss Evans said she felt scared of being left alone and they threatened to leave. She even changed her will in their favour, but changed it back when she realised she had been taken advantage of.”
Their employment ended in October, 2012 when Miss Evans had to go into hospital and her next-of-kin reported the mother and daughter to the police.
Johnson was arrested at home on June 12, 2014 and police noted she had a high-end washing machine and dryer, worth over £1,000 each.
She gave a ‘no comment’ interview and when her mother, who had treated herself to designer goods, expensive dinners out and theatre tickets was arrested she denied taking money without Miss Evans’ permission.
In her video-recorded interview Miss Evans said: “They were mother and daughter. I thought they were lovely people and they were with me for years.”
However, Santos persuaded the OAP to hand over her bank PIN after claiming to be embarrassed when subjected to security checks at the local branch when withdrawing money.
“She said it was embarrassing at the bank because she was asked all kinds of questions in front of people and said she could not do this so I foolishly gave her the PIN number.”