THE GOVERNMENT is examining law changes to protect vulnerable elderly people from being defrauded – following the conviction of a greedy grandmother and ex-Meriden scout leader and her family.
Margaret Rigby, her ex-policeman son-in-law Allan Macdonald and her daughter Jayne Macdonald, a retired nurse, formerly of Coventry, escaped jail today on health grounds, but received suspended sentences following September’s guilty verdicts.
It delivers some justice for Kenilworth management consultant and former Coventry King Henry VIII pupil Nick Lewis, whose late mother Barbara Lewis was fleeced by her ‘friend’ Rigby of £57,000 savings.
Rigby had been granted power of attorney over dementia-suffering Mrs Lewis’s affairs.
Speaking to a throng of media outside Canterbury Crown Court last Friday, Mr Lewis revealed his campaign to prevent what happened to his mum happening to others is being examined by the government.
He had lobbied his Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright, who is also Attorney General. Justice minister Caroline Dinage is now to consider whether further legal protections should be introduced.
Our Special Report last month revealed how former Rigby – a former Meriden cub scout leader who masqueraded as a charitable do-gooder – swindled her now dead dementia suffering ‘friend’ out of £57,000 savings to finance a lavish lifestyle.
The beneficiaries of 80-year-old Rigby’s crimes also included her daughter Jayne Macdonald and Allan Macdonald.
The three received suspended sentences of two years, 18 months and one year respectively.
Rigby, latterly of Burnt Barn Cottages, Betteshanger, Kent, only escaped jail because of her health, the judge said.
Jayne Macdonald, 56, of the same address, was found guilty of two charges of acquiring criminal property, and son-in-law Allan, 60, was found guilty of one count.
The cash was taken from ‘friend of 40 years’ Mrs Lewis’s bank account – as she lay seriously ill with deteriorating brain functioning and memory loss in a care home.
It was blown on two cars and a caravan, a holiday to America and other trips, expensive family gifts, Take That concert tickets, clearing credit card bills, expensive meals at restaurants, and other luxuries.
The money was also spent on expensive dental treatment for Rigby’s daughter, a cooker for the Rigby household, a £500 coffee machine, and even a ‘chicken house’ – as Mrs Lewis lay in bed only able to eat pureed food.
Mr Lewis, aged 49, speaking outside court, said: “Today’s sentences against two ex-nurses and an ex-police officer bring to a close a 12-year all-consuming battle for justice against three people who abused my mum’s friendship, trust and the responsibilities of the Power of Attorney.
“What they did was disgraceful and devoid of any decency.
“I don’t think the sentences represent a true punishment or deterrent but perhaps the law changes
I’ve proposed can ensure other people in the future can avoid such a painful experience.”
“I am now campaigning for something good to come from this, in the hope of preventing what happened to my mum and family happening to anyone else.
“This case highlights the opportunity for individuals or a group of people to abuse a position of trust.
“With an ever-increasing elderly population, Dementia is a rapidly increasing issue, and many more people will be given Power Of Attorney.
“When someone writes out their last Will and Testament, ‘Executors’ are appointed to ensure the wishes are adhered to.
“What I proposed to Mr Wright was for there to be a similar scenario for a Power or Attorney. I suggested the solicitor should document a review date (anniversary of the signing of the paperwork) where the Attorney presents bank statements, receipts etc in conjunction with a brief explanation of income and expenditure. With most expenses being controlled via direct debits this would not be an arduous task.”