Dementia sufferer left penniless after son’s £70,000 theft

Steven Darvill arriving at Bradford Crown Court. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Steven Darvill arriving at Bradford Crown Court. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

A dementia sufferer was left destitute after her life savings were stolen by her despicable son, a court heard.

Retired nurse Hazel Riley did not have a penny for food and clothing after scheming Steven Darvill raided her nest egg.

Her son also dipped into her pension pot - syphoning nearly £70,000 from her accounts to pay £50,000 debts and bringing the bailiffs to his doting mother’s door.

Darvill was jailed for three years and seven months over the five-year scam.

Starving Mrs Riley, 79, who suffers with Alzheimers Disease, tried to buy a meal at a council day centre, Bradford Crown Court heard.

But when she opened her purse there was nothing in it but a few foreign coins, according to Prosecutor Peter Hampton.

He said that Darvill, 56, only visited his mum every three months and did not bother turning up when 999 workers were called to an accident at her home in Allerton, Bradford.

Judge Jonathan Rose told him: “The thief who steals from his mother is disgraceful. It is a wicked breach of trust.”

Mrs Riley was “labouring under the appalling effects of Alzheimers Disease” making the theft “completely despicable”.

Darvill, of Ashfield Road, Birstall, admitted stealing £69,163 between January 2009, and last July.

Mr Hampton said Mrs Riley had been looking forward to a comfortable retirement after a life-time’s work for the NHS.

She had kept painstaking financial records in a hand written ledger and had savings and current accounts.

She had been living for 20 years at the Bradford address with her cousin, Margaret Baxter, 75, who had learning difficulties and hearing problems.

Mrs Riley was originally her cousin’s carer but the roles reversed as her own memory deteriorated and she became confused.

Her other son, Leslie Darvill, who lives away, trusted his brother to look after their mother’s finances.

Neighbours alerted social services after bailiffs came to the house in March last year to collect unpaid council tax.

Darvill lied that “every last penny” had been withdrawn for “safekeeping.”

The court heard the former surveyor, was fired in 2009 and his marriage broke up the following year, leaving him debt-ridden.

Andrew Walker, mitigating, said: “He is disgusted with himself and his behaviour towards his mother.”

But the judge told him: “Your mother, working hard all her life, after 70 odd years, was looking for foreign coins in her purse to pay for a meal at a day centre.”

The judge urged Darvill to reflect on that while in prison.