Harpenden man defrauds stepmother by selling her home to buy flat

St Albans Crown Court

St Albans Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A man from Harpenden defrauded his stepmother by selling her home and buying himself a flat after she went into care, a jury heard.

Ian Leonard, 53, of Lilac Way, Harpenden, had power of attorney over the affairs of his stepmother, Ada Leonard. He sold her home in Wheathampstead, and was also accused of using her money to pay off hundreds of pounds worth of bills on pub tabs.

Appearing in St Albans Crown Court on Friday, July 28, Leonard pleaded not guilty to making a false representation that he was lawfully entitled to receive £261,110.80 from the sale proceeds of Mrs Leonard’s home at 16 Necton Road before May 17, 2013.

He further denied a money-laundering offence of converting criminal proceeds, namely £117,808 relating to the purchase of a first-floor flat at 57 High Street, Wheathampstead in June 2013.

Leonard pleaded guilty to four other charges; fraudulently spending £5,099 concerning cash withdrawals, small purchases and bar tabs of £568 and £639, and transferring criminal property, namely the difference in sale price between the two property purchases, totalling £39,197.

He also admitted possessing criminal property, which was the £17,493 in rental income from the flat, and transferring criminal property relating to £29,997 of his stepmother’s money into a failed pyramid scheme.

Prosecutor Neil King told the jury that Leonard and his sister, Jennifer Turner, were granted power of attorney in October 2012 when their adopted mother was 86.

Most Read

In September 2015, Mrs Leonard was found wandering the streets confused and, after a hospital assessment, was placed in Houndswood House Care Home in Radlett. Leonard, who had day-to-day responsibility as he lived closer than his sister, never paid for any care home fees as he was in dispute with the local authority over who should pay.

Mr King said: “He was willing to abuse the power of attorney he had over her estate, plundering it for his own benefit.

“He sold her house and the £261,000 was not paid into his bank account or his mother’s but into a business account he had sole control over.

“Leonard sold his mother’s house fraudulently and dishonestly so he could benefit buying this other flat.”

Herts county council tried to intervene over the non-payment of fees and discovered he had been draining Mrs Leonard’s bank accounts and sold her house.

The trial continues.