Sunday 19 November 2017

33-year-old woman jailed for spending parents' life savings while they're on holiday

A woman who stole her parents' life savings and used their credits while they were on holiday has been jailed.
Melissa Humphreys, 33, from Essex, faces three years in prison after she defrauded her elderly parents Elizabeth, 70, and Terence Fordham, 80, out of £130,000. 
She was left her in charge of her parent’s finances while they were away for four years. The couple had sold their home, settled their debts and packed their lives in a motor home for their dream retirement, travelling around Europe. 
When they returned to the UK, they discovered all the money had been cleared out of their accounts and five credit cards in their name had been drained. 
They had almost £55,000 in their savings account and left the details with their daughter, who was 21 and training to be a financial adviser at the time.
Prosecuting, Matthew Bagnall said: "While Mr and Mrs Fordham were travelling around Europe in their motor home and to assist them with financial matters, they arranged for their daughter to have bank account details i.e. savings to pay for any expenses incurred through their credit cards.
"This was restricted for day to day management for the parent's expenses and not for personal gain or use." 
However the court heard that Humphreys had taken money from their account to pay for her bills after her husband had been made redundant.
The couple noticed their money was missing when they tried to pay for their other daughter, Gail, to join them in Spain but there was not enough in their account to buy a ticket. 
A victim statement from Mr Fordham that was heard in court said: "What has happened has been life changing for me, not a day goes by without something triggering in my mind some of the emotions that come back to me.  t 
"Something as simple as the name Melissa being said on TV brings me back those raw emotions."
He added: "I love my daughter Melissa too much. She is my first born and the sun shone from her eye. When my two daughters were growing up, neither of them wanted for much and I could provide for them.
"I don't understand to this day how or why she did this to us. She has let the whole family down." 
The parents have cut all ties with their eldest daughter after receiving threatening phone calls and emails from her.
Wearing black leggings and a black jumper, Humphreys cried as her crimes were laid bare in the court.
Defending, Steven Levy said: "This defendant at the age of 21 was given responsibility of a considerable amount of money and was a very mature person having gotten married at a very young age.
"While this does not excuse what she has done, all her life she has tried to fit in and she was struggling for the longest time with her life.
"She used money as a mechanism to live out lives of others that she could not afford. When asked what she used the money for it was not for the renovation of her house, flashy cars or anything like that but instead to maintain her lifestyle and pay off bills. 
"Her husband had been made redundant several times and she was struggling financially. Her house was repossessed. She tried to sell the house to pay back her debt but her husband blocked this.
"At first she would take £50 and pay it back at the end of the month but it soon spiralled out of control.
"She said it came as a relief when this all came to an end in 2010.
"She has lost her family and friends and support of her husband as a result of this. Her parents are rebuilding their life after this but she is not a part of it. She is all alone.
"She is extremely remorseful and she is trying to rebuild her life but just recently she got into a relationship that was bad for her mental health. Also she has been forced into an abortion of a child because of someone else and this has affected her mental health." 
Judge Lynch QC said: "Your parents left you in charge of their finances in the UK, trusting with bank accounts and cards. You subsequently used their hard earned monies to fund your lifestyle.
"It isn't only pain of you, as your father described - their 'beloved daughter' did this to them, it's not losing all their money, it's the agony of the threats and the shame of being in debt. As a result of other debts that you ran up in credit cards. 
"The threatening phone called they have received - you have left them living in misery. Instead of enjoying their retirement, they are left with nothing and having to living in a mobile home miles from their roots."
The police investigation was launched in 2010 but her trial did not begin until seven years later.
She added: "This took a long time to come to court and it affected you mentally to have this hanging over your head for some five years or so.
"However the effects of your offences are going to affecting your parents for the rest of their life. You are a young woman with a life ahead of you.
"Your father is 80 and your mother is 70 years of age and after years of working hard all they are left with is worry and concern and the pain of knowing what you have done to them."

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