Harpenden man Ian Leonard jailed for fleecing adopted mother out of her £194K life-savings

Ian Leonard of Harpenden - picture John McLellan.

Ian Leonard of Harpenden - picture John McLellan. - Credit: JOHN McLELLAN

A callous adopted son who plundered his dementia-suffering mother’s life-savings has been jailed for five and a half years today.

Ian Leonard of Harpenden - picture John McLellan.

Ian Leonard of Harpenden - picture John McLellan. - Credit: JOHN McLELLAN

Ian Leonard, 54, of Lilac Way, Harpenden, was branded “manipulative, cunning and depraved” by a Crown Court Judge.

Money grabbing Leonard began emptying Ada Leonard’s bank account the day she was taken into a nursing home in September 2012 after she was found confused and wandering the streets.

Exploiting his role as her power of attorney, he also sold her Victorian semi and bought a cheaper flat in his own name - and then pocketed the rent from tenants.

In total, Leonard helped himself to £194,232 of his 91-year-old mum’s money. So far she has spent five years in care homes and but it’s understood none of her fees have yet been paid.

The jury heard that Leonard was so tight-fisted that he even refused allow his mother to have a weekly £10 hair appointment at Houndswood House Care Home in Radlett. He refused saying she “wouldn’t know the difference” between that and a monthly hairdo because she had dementia. He had also refused to buy her new slippers when she needed them.

Leonard had pleaded not guilty to fraud by abusing his position as a lasting power of attorney by selling Mrs Leonard’s home in Necton Road, Wheathampstead, May 17 2013.

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He also denied converting criminal proceeds, using £177,808 of the £261,110 realised,to buy a first-floor flat in High Street, Wheathampstead, in June 2013.

But a jury convicted him by a majority of 11-1 of both offences last month.

He claimed he was in dispute over who should pay care fees and wanted to prevent his mother’s assets being “seized”.

Leonard, who had joint power of attorney with his sister Jennifer Turner from October 2012, also claimed the property decisions were made jointly. He has since been stripped of his power of attorney.

His sister told the court she believed the money realised would be used to pay their mother’s care bills.

Leonard had earlier pleaded guilty to four other charges totalling £91,786 from 5 September 2012 to August 2015.

They were: fraudulently spending £5,099, including £1,000 on bar tabs, £3,000 on unsuccessfully defending a drink-driving charge, and an American trip; transferring criminal property, cash totalling £39,197; possessing criminal property, namely £17,493 rental income from the flat; and transferring criminal property relating to putting £29,997 of his mother’s money into a failed pyramid scheme.

Leonard’s assets are now being confiscated to repay what he took, totalling £194,232, which also includes a loan raised against the flat.

His assets include his half share of the modern detached former matrimonial home, which sold last Friday.

Recorder Leslie Cuthbert, sitting at St Albans Crown Court, today jailed Leonard for 66 months.

As he did so he told Leonard the offences showed up his “desperately, incredibly selfish actions”.

The judge continued: “Over three years you treated your dementia mother’s assets as your own, spending monies she had accumulated over her life on whatever you wanted, not least copious amounts of drink.

“After a lifetime of her caring for you, you saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. You focused on yourself and your interests.”

The judge said Leonard contested the more serious offences because he couldn’t admit to himself “the level of depravity to which you had sunk”.

Recorder Cuthbert said he had doubts Leonard was remorseful.

“During your evidence you became emotional and sought to suggest you were devastated your mother had been admitted to a care home all the while knowing on the very same day you began to help yourself to her monies,” he said.

“This suggests to me ongoing manipulation and cunning.”

He added: “Your mother was vulnerable due to her dementia and you chose not to pay for minimum basics such as a weekly hair cut and slippers which would have given her some small comfort.”

The court has heard that the flat is to be transferred into the names of Leonard’s sister and a newly-appointed power of attorney.

In his evidence Leonard said he was “in a bad place” in 2013. He was not working, his wife handed him divorce papers and his eldest son had mental health problems.