A COUPLE from Barnham, who systematically and ‘heartlessly’ neglected and defrauded an elderly relative in their care, have been sentenced today (Monday, April 7).
Paul Schmidt, 52, a motor trade mechanic, and his partner Amanda Whelan, 38, both of Hedge End, Barnham, appeared in custody at Hove Crown Court, having been convicted in February after a two-week trial at the same court.
Schmidt was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for wilful neglect, contrary to the Mental Capacity Act, and eight months’ for obtaining approximately £6,700 from fraud by false representation from his elderly mother.
The sentences will run consecutively.
Whelan was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for wilful neglect. She was also ordered to do 160 hours unpaid work within 12 months.
Schmidt’s mother, now aged 87, came to live with them in 2010, but subsequently police and social services began to receive reports that she was not being properly cared for.
Friends and family became frustrated and called the police.
Eventually, in August 2011, social services and the local GP got into the property to visit her.
She was extremely thin, her toe nails were severely overgrown, she was unkempt and living in dirty conditions, a spokesman for Sussex Police said.
The frail pensioner weighed less than six stone.
Social services removed her for her own welfare, taking her into care where she now lives in a safe environment and a much-improved condition.
Schmidt and Whelan were arrested.
Detective Constable Emma Fields said: “This was a blatant case of heartless exploitation and neglect of a very vulnerable person, who deserved love and care but received just the opposite.
“Further evidence was obtained from the victim’s bank account. Several cheques and card transactions were made on the account which were not for her.
“Paul Schmidt admitted to writing and signing the cheques; he said because his mother told him to and he said she gave him permission.
“However, the court found that this activity was fraudulent and for his benefit.
“We hope this outcome will send a warning message to anyone thinking they can take advantage of a elderly vulnerable person.
“Police and caring agencies will respond and take every possible step to bring them to justice.”