Man stole from his sister's care fund
A CASH-STRAPPED businessman who tried to keep his firm afloat by thieving from his severely disabled sister's care fund has been spared jail.
Richard Hayward had power of attorney over the affairs of Susan Haskins, who was only able to communicate by eye movement after suffering a "devastating" stroke in 1991 and effectively being locked inside her body.
Bristol Crown Court heard Hayward helped himself to £14,721.97 from Mrs Haskins' bank account, forcing her to delay payment to her carers.
He was reported missing in March last year but turned up at Gordano Services and later admitted what he had done to police. Mrs Haskins was interviewed and, by eye movements, confirmed the money had been taken by her brother.
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Hayward, 50, who was living at Woodleaze in Sea Mills but has now moved to West Merseyside, pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud between April 2010 and February 2011.
Judge Michael Roach handed him a 50-week suspended jail term and told him to pay his sister £4,000 in compensation.
Hayward was also ordered to abide by a four-month 7pm to 7am curfew, carry out 220 hours of unpaid work and be supervised for two years.
Judge Roach told him: "These were miserable offences.
"If you have an ounce of decency you will pay back the money."
Julian Howells, prosecuting, said Hayward confessed he had been taking money from his disabled sister's account, over which he had power of attorney, and using it to pay off his own debts.
Mr Howells said Mrs Haskins, now 47, suffered a devastating stroke in March 1991, which left her in a nursing home unable to move and only able to communicate by use of her eyelids and a letter board.
The court heard her care was funded with a combination of local authority and government money, over which Hayward had power of attorney. An investigation revealed he had been using his sister's money to pay tax bills, mortgage payments and running costs regarding the paint spraying business he ran with his brother-in-law, Mrs Hayward's husband.
He also spent it on stays at the Marriott, Radisson and Ibis hotels.
Mr Howells told the court: "Susan Haskins was able to give a video interview. She said her social services money was taken by her brother and thus was discovered when a cheque bounced."
Nicholas Arthur, defending, said his client was a man of previous good character.
He said: "Susan Haskins was asked the question in interview if she and her brother got on well and she indicated 'yes'. She was not aware of his problems and she trusted him.
"She had to pay for the bounced cheque and her carers had to wait a long time to be paid."
Mr Arthur described a close family in which Hayward's business partner was his brother-in-law, and Hayward's partner was his sister's principal carer.
Hayward, who was on the brink of bankruptcy, hoped that taking the money was a temporary measure that could be covered later, the court heard.
Mr Arthur told the judge: "He will live with this offence for the rest of his life. Whatever you do, he has to continue to live with that.
"Their mother and father have passed away and they will have to repair what they can."