Businessman stole �80k from mother

A BANKRUPT businessman who stole more than �80,000 from his mother has been jailed.

A BANKRUPT businessman who stole more than �80,000 from his mother has been jailed.

John Whitwell, 63, took money which was supposed to be used to pay for his mother's nursing home fees, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

The court was told that the theft - involving 50 separate transactions - was only discovered when Whitwell's mother died in November 2007.

Whitwell, of Mill Green, Edwardstone, near Sudbury, was reported to police by his brother who had been unaware that the money from their mother's estate over which they had power of attorney was not being used to pay her bills.

The brother found out about the missing money because he was the executor of their mother's estate.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said the thefts were committed at a time when Whitwell was in financial difficulties.

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Instead of handing over �63,000 which was due to Essex County Council to pay nursing home fees, Whitwell had used the cash together with a further �20,000 in a bid to solve his own money problems, said Mr Gair.

When arrested Whitwell admitted immediately to police what he had done. Subsequently he pleaded guilty to 10 specimen charges of theft and asked for a further 40 similar offences to be taken into account.

Mr Gair said the thefts took place between June 2002 and September 2007. The amount taken totalled �83,343.

Martyn Wood, mitigating, said that Whitwell had for 10 years successfully run an electrical contracting and heating business.

But when debts began to mount, with money owed for national insurance, income tax and VAT, Whitwell had started taking his mother's money as what he intended to be a loan but was unable to repay it as his problems continued.

As a result of his financial predicament, Whitwell was made bankrupt last November and had lost his business, Whitwell Services, and his house, said Mr Wood.

Mr Wood said: "He is quite ashamed of his conduct and regrets bitterly the way he conducted himself in relation to his mother's money".

Jailing Whitwell, who had no previous convictions, for 32 months, Judge John Devaux told him: "You appear before this court having plundered your mother's assts almost to the point of extinction".