Man jailed for stealing £150k from elderly neighbour - Welwyn Garden City

15/04/2016

A man, who stole nearly £150,000 from his elderly neighbour, was jailed for three and a half years today, Friday, 15 April 2016.

Wayne Henderson, aged 48, befriended reclusive Stephen Hampton, who has since died, by doing odd jobs for him. He gained his trust and systematically plundered the old man's bank account after being given access to his bank card.

Henderson, a lorry driver, appeared for sentence at St Albans Crown Court, having earlier pleaded guilty to the theft of £148,180 over a three-year period.

Mr Hampton, the court was told, was a single man who had no friends and kept himself to himself. He was a pensioner and, as his health declined, he asked Henderson if he would tend the garden of his home in Howlands, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. After Mr Hampton went into Elizabeth House, a care home in Welwyn Garden City, Henderson began stealing the money. With the sale of Mr Hampton's home, Henderson knew there was a lot of money in the elderly man's account. Still in possession of Mr Hampton's bank cards, he regularly took large sums for himself.

Prosecutor Kevin West said: "Initially, he did some legitimate work for Mr Hampton. Mainly he withdrew cash - around £100k - over a period. There were also transactions on Amazon, amounting to approximately £50,000." He said the account had been emptied by the time Mr Hampton died on 1 September 2104 and an investigation was launched. Henderson organised the elderly man's funeral, but the £3,000 cost of the funeral was never paid, said Mr West. He told the police he had lost track of the money he had taken out. He said he had a drug habit and was spending large amounts of money on cocaine and cannabis.

Claire Cooper, defending, said that at first Henderson had helped him around his home and when he first went into the care home, saying there was "almost a father-son relationship." There is immense regret and remorse. He was flabbergasted and shocked at the amount of money he had drained from Mr Hampton's account," she said.

In a basis of plea presented to the court, Henderson said: "After a while I took advantage of him. I am devastated that I have done this to a man I considered to be a friend." She said he is now earning money with a haulage firm and wants to repay every penny.

Jailing him, Recorder Samantha Cohen said: "When you first offered help, you did so as a good neighbour with good intent. However, it was only a year after you had moved next door to him that you began to abuse the trust he placed in you. You used Mr Hampton as a regular source of income. Over three years you stole just under £150,000 - about £50,000 a year tax free, which is equivalent to a very substantial salary. You spent his money as if it was your own. You betrayed the trust of someone who had come to regard you as a friend."

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