Hampstead man cleared of swindling 100-year-old cousin out of £400,000
PUBLISHED: 13:27 11 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:27 11 February 2016
A former television executive was today found not guilty of "pillaging" more than £400,000 from the bank accounts of his 100-year-old cousin and selling her house without her consent.
Edmond Fenton, 71, of Winchester Road, Hampstead, had been accused of transferring a total of £402,262.11 from spinster Marie Ell’s current and savings account to his own account while he had a power of attorney for her.
The prosecution had alleged the pensioner who was living in an old people’s home at the time was “confused”.
But Mr Fenton had denied the allegations and said he had transferred the money and sold her house in Priory Grove, Romford, after Miss Ell’s distinct requests.
He had told Blackfriars Crown Court that he cared deeply for “feisty” Miss Ell and was acting on her instructions and in her interests.
He said: “She wanted her account emptied so social services couldn’t take her money. In order to comply with her very distinct requests, I did it.”
Mr John Traversi, prosecuting, had told Blackfriars Crown Court: “This case concerns the cynical and dishonest dissipation of an elderly and confused lady’s assets.
“He pillaged her bank accounts, her savings accounts and sold off her house and took the money while acting under a power of attorney over her affairs and spent the money for himself.”
Mr Traversi told the jury: “A large part of this was the proceeds of the sale of her house.”
But Mr Geoffrey Payne, defending, had said: “Miss Ell was not confused at all but feisty, determined, knew her own mind and consented to everything he did.
“The prosecution case fails before it even got started. There was no pillaging of her assets.
“The essence of the case comes down to this. How can you be sure that everything Mr Fenton admits he did was not done with the full consent and knowledge of Marie Ell?”
He said Miss Ell’s intentions were confirmed by the fact that she had drafted a will leaving all her assets to Mr Fenton before she died.
Mr Fenton, a former chairman of World TV Ltd and joint managing director of Keith Prowse Travel Group, had told the jury he was renovating a farmhouse he owned in the Algarve where he intended to retire, and planned to take Miss Ell out of the care home to live with him.
Miss Ell, who was unmarried with no children, passed away on October 5, 2014, soon after celebrating her 100th birthday.
A jury at Blackfriars Crown Court took seven hours to reach a verdict of not guilty on one count of fraud and another of transferring criminal property between April 28, 2010 and March 14, 2012.