Man who stole £200k from his dementia-hit mum avoids jail
A Co Antrim man who took more than £200,000 from his elderly mother's bank account told police he spent the money "as though it was going out of fashion".
Daniel Robinson, from Glenhurst Drive in Newtownabbey, was handed a two-year sentence, which was suspended for three years, after he admitted offending over a five-year period.
Belfast Crown Court heard that although it was accepted that Robinson did not use the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle, he did go on several holidays to Portugal, and bought a caravan in Portrush.
The court also heard that Robinon's 86-year old mother was in a nursing home, had dementia and had no idea what her son had done.
Crown prosecutor Peter Magill said Robinson - who is an only child - was granted power of attorney for his mother in November 2011 when she moved to a nursing home following a fall.
The father-of-three's offending came to light last October when concerns were raised over unpaid nursing home fees of £92,000.
When an investigation into Mrs Robinson's finances was launched, it was discovered that £209,000 had been taken from her account between November 2011 and October 2016.
Mr Magill said Robinson had taken the amount from his mother's bank account "and had simply used the money for day-to-day living expenses".
He also paid for the trips and bought the caravan.
Pointing out that the money taken amounted to around £40,000 a year, Mr Magill said that when police arrested and interviewed Robinson earlier this year, he told officers: "I got carried away and used the money.
"I am disgusted at myself.
"I am very sorry. I just spend it as though it was going out of fashion."
Robinson, who has 10 previous convictions for similar offences in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, was "full and frank" with police, and admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position. Defence barrister Johnny Brown said his client was a hard-working man who ran his own business.
Accepting that Robinson's offending came to light after he failed to pay his mother's nursing home fees, Mr Brown said that Robinson's only real asset was the caravan.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told Robinson he had breached the trust of both his mother and those who had granted him power of attorney.
Describing Robinson's offending as "siphoning off approximately £40,000 a year", Judge Miller said Mrs Robinson's nursing home care was now being paid for by the State.
The judge said Robinson "knew from day one that what he was doing was illegal", adding: "He simply says: 'The money was there so I took it and each time I took it, it became easier.'"
Judge Miller handed Robinson a suspended sentence.
However, before releasing Robinson from the dock, the judge warned that if he reoffends within the next three years he would go to jail.