Bristol man accused of stealing his own mum's savings
A MUM who was fed up with banks hid her life savings at home – only for her son to steal £7,000 from its hiding place, a court heard.
Anna Lacey told a jury she closed her £14,000 Lloyds TSB ISA savings account in 2009, depositing the nest egg under the floorboards of an airing cupboard in her Knowle West home.
It is claimed that, in May last year, her son Mark took half of the cash.
But the 42-year-old, of Stonebridge Park, Eastville, denies theft.
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Bristol Crown Court was told that Mrs Lacey wrapped the cash in tin foil and hid it, lending it to her family, including her three sons. She did not tell anyone where the stash was and checked it regularly.
But one day, at a time when the defendant was staying with her and had been left at home alone, she discovered half of the cash had gone.
Sam Jones, prosecuting, said Mrs Lacey confronted Mark and he denied taking it, before leaving the house.
Police were called and found Mark's finger prints on a bank bag and tin foil, the jury heard.
When officers went to his home he showed them £640 stored in a doll's house but said it was from his Employment Support Allowance.
Mr Jones told the court: "He said his mother was on a lot of tablets and she had lost the plot. He said his father had a gambling problem."
Mrs Lacey told the jury she would lend out sums of up to £500 to her family but Mark was the only one to make excuses about paying it back.
She said she felt sick when one day she noticed an empty cash bag on top of her dressing table.
She told the jury: "Automatically I went to the cupboard and I took everything out.
"As I put my hand in I couldn't feel anything but loose money.
"I just went scatty."
Mrs Lacey recounted how she called her husband and son to the bedroom and asked Mark for her money back.
She told the court her son had said "what money?" and then accused his dad of having a gambling problem.
Mrs Lacey's husband Donald, a meter reader, said he was aware his wife kept money in the house but denied having a gambling problem. He said he had sworn that he had not taken a penny of her money.
The jury was told that Mark Lacey had committed many previous thefts and burglaries in the 1980s and 1990s, and had been in prison.
But, giving evidence in his own defence, Lacey said he had changed his ways around the year 2000, after having children and being able to hold down a job.
He said that, had he wanted to steal the money, he would have taken the whole lot – and worn latex gloves.
Lacey denied he had been short of cash but admitted he sometimes borrowed from his mum to visit massage parlours.
He said the accusations had caused "unimaginable grief" and made him consider suicide. He had been living in a hostel for the last seven months, and his wife Zoe-Anne had not known who to believe, he said.
Lacey told the jury: "All I can say is that I was a thief back in the day, but I have never stolen from my parents and would have no need to steal that money. If I had wanted to, I could have just asked to borrow it."
He said he did not believe the money was his mother's but instead she was storing it for his brother Wayne – who goes by his middle name Steven – so that it would not be found by police. He added that he thought that no money had ever gone missing but it had already been "short" when it had been delivered to the house.
The case continues.