A retired primary school head teacher defrauded an elderly woman out of more than £200,000 after being given power of attorney over her affairs, a court heard.
Andrew Norman Allen, of Friary Court, Birstall, initially intended to pay back the money he siphoned from Kathleen Steele’s accounts, Leeds Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
A total of £213,000 was taken from Mrs Steele in around 250 illegal bank transactions between July 2005 and August 2010.
Allen, 60, knew Mrs Steele and her late husband, a minister, from their local Methodist church and was a lifelong friend.
He was a beneficiary of her will and set to recieve a third of her estate.
Prosecuting, Samuel Andrews said Mrs Steele was a prudent woman who managed her affairs, which included four rental properties near Barnsley as well as her martial home in Bradford Road, Birstall.
She also recieved several pensions.
In 1999, Mrs Steele arranged for Allen to be given power of attorney over her financial affairs.
She continued to manage her money for several years, but in 2005 Allen took control when Mrs Steele moved into a nursing home.
It was then he began to siphon money from her various bank accounts in cash withdrawals, cheques and bank transfers and making payments to loan companies, Mr Andrews told the court.
In the three-year period Allen had also retired from teaching and recieved a lump sum pension payment of £60,000.
The fraud only came to light a month after Mrs Steele died when solicitor Richard Margetts, who knew both Allen and Mrs Steele and was executor of her will, met Allen and was ‘astonished’ to find the money missing.
Mr Andrews told the court that investigators were unable to trace where the money went.
A £400,000 High Court civil judgement had already been made against him and the married father of two now faces repossession of his family home.
Allen, described as a ‘pillar of his community’ has also been cast out of his church and rotary club.
Mitigating, James Keeley said the fraud was a result of ‘financial mismanagement’.
He said: “There is no evidence of him having a champagne lifestyle. He is deeply ashmed of himself.”
In a letter to the judge, Allen said: “I have betrayed the trust of a woman who had only shown me kindness and love and I have earned my punishment.”
Sentencing Allen to three and a half years’ imprisonment, judge Christopher Batty said: “What I can’t understand is where it has all gone. Mismanagement doesn’t deal with it. It was spent. But spent on what? Certainly the public will never know.”
He added: “What you did was utterly unforgivable.”