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Jail for home care boss who emptied housebound pensioner's bank account

Vulnerable 80-year-old now reliant on benefits after money was stolen

A home care boss from Bury who emptied the bank account of a housebound pensioner he was employed to care for has been jailed.

Peter James Heselwood, of Cross Street, stole more than £5,000 from the vulnerable 80-year-old over a two-month period.   

His actions meant the elderly woman, who lives alone, has been forced to apply for benefits and has no savings left to pay for her funeral.

During sentencing at Douglas Courthouse yesterday (27 July) the 51-year-old’s advocate described it as a ‘vile offence’.

Home Care

The court heard Heselwood’s company – Smiley’s People Limited – had been employed for more than five years to provide home care services.

Staff would routinely do the lady’s shopping without issue - taking her bank card to pay for goods she required, spending around £20 each time.

Heselwood then took over responsibility for the shopping but, unbeknownst to the woman, started making cash withdrawals for himself and pocketing cashback.

He also bought a laptop, worth more than £400, and purchased a domain name for a business he owned.

In total he stole £5,637 between 23 June and 27 August.

The court heard Heselwood even used the woman’s bank card whilst she was in hospital – it was on her discharge from a hospital stay that she discovered her account was empty.

In September Heselwood visited her at home and admitted what he had done telling her he’d pay her back within two weeks; she gave him the opportunity to do so but the money didn’t materialise.

He was arrested and told police he’d mixed up his bank account with hers before later pleading guilty to theft.

"All my savings have now gone"

In a Victim Impact Statement, provided to the court, the woman – who relies on carers coming into her home multiple times a day - said she’d considered Heselwood a friend.

“I can’t believe what he has done,” she said adding: “He had been coming to visit me in hospital whilst doing the deed.”

The woman said Heselwood’s actions had caused the bank to activate an unauthorised overdraft facility for which she was charged – something that had never happened to her before.  

His deceit, she said, left her unable to pay her rent and struggling to finance a new care company.

“All my savings have now gone,” she added.

She also revealed she’s been forced to cancel direct debit donations to a number of charities she was supporting – including those which help animals – as she has no money left to give others.

“I have felt sad more than anything,” she said: “I feel worried about trusting anyone.”

Custody

Heselwood’s advocate told the court it was ‘very sad’ that his client had put the woman through this ordeal describing it as ‘terrible’.

“He does have a great deal of remorse for his offending,” he added: “He did have a number of difficulties at that time.”

Magistrates were told Heselwood – who sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout proceedings – was in a ‘downward spiral of debt’.

“The person who is suffering most is the complainant – custody will not help her,” he said urging the bench to suspend any sentence.  

Sending Heselwood to jail for four months Magistrates told him: “Your actions have given us no option.

“This is a particularly distressing case which we believe was pre-mediated and opportunistic due to your financial circumstances.”

Heselwood has also been ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation – the maximum the court can order.

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