Couple who stole �14k from relative spared jail

A SUFFOLK couple who withdrew more than �14,000 from an elderly relative’s bank accounts, leaving him penniless, have avoided being sent to jail.

John Apps, 41, and his wife Carol, 36, gained control of bank accounts belonging to Apps’ father, also called John, and withdrew more than �14,000 during a six-month period.

The couple, of Bellings Road, Haverhill, were found guilty of fraud by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court last month.

The defendants, who have two young children, had originally denied three offences of fraud by abuse of their position between November 2007 and June 2008.

During the trial, the court heard that Mr Apps senior, who has since died, lost his home in south Essex when it was repossessed after he re-mortgaged it to help his only son and daughter-in-law – and then fell into arrears.

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The pensioner had moved into sheltered accommodation in Grays and, following the death of his wife Eileen, had gone to stay with his son in Haverhill.

Money was withdrawn from his accounts with Barclays and the Post Office after he trusted his daughter-in-law to become involved in operating them.

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His son used an Abbey National cash card to withdraw money from his father’s account without his permission.

Mr Apps senior discovered he had just 35p left in his Abbey National account, �1.29 in the Post Office and �8.40 with Barclays.

John Apps junior claimed his father had handed him the card and told him to use it if he was in financial trouble.

Carol Apps said she was shocked to discover her late father-in-law claimed he had never given her permission to access his bank accounts.

The couple appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday for sentencing and the court heard they had acquired debts of more than �14,000.

Charles Myatt, for John Apps, said: “This was not a crime of greed. It was a case of trying to keep the wolf from the door.

“The debts crippled them. However, one cannot under-estimate the emotional impact this had on John Apps senior.”

John Apps was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and attend supervision appointments for 12 months.

Carol Apps was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to attend supervision appointments for 12 months.

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