Hampstead man ‘swindled 100-year-old woman out of more than £400,000’

Edmond Fenton cleared of fraud

Edmond Fenton cleared of fraud - Credit: Archant

A man “pillaged” more than £400,000 from the bank accounts of a 100-year-old cousin and sold her house, transferring the proceeds to himself, a court has heard.

Edmond Fenton outside Blackfriars Crown Court where he is standing trial

Edmond Fenton outside Blackfriars Crown Court where he is standing trial - Credit: Archant

Edmond Fenton, 71, of Winchester Road, Hampstead, is accused of helping himself to the cash while he had power of attorney for his cousin Marie Ell, who was “confused” and living in an retirement home.

Mr John Traversi, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown Court: “This 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.”

Fenton is accused of transferring a total of £402,262.11 to himself from spinster Marie Ell’s current and savings account to his own account.

“A large part of this was the proceeds of the sale of her house,” Mr Traversi told the jury.

Fenton denies one count of fraud between and another of transferring criminal property April 29 2010 and 31 January 2012.

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Blackfriars Crown Court heard that after selling the house, in Priory Grove, Romford, for £285,273 Fenton put the money in former dentist Mrs Ell’s account before transferring the money into his account in sums of £10,000 at a time.

A further £12,440 was also transferred out of Miss Ell’s ISA savings account, with £5,000 going directly into Mr Fenton’s own account.

After transferring the money, said the prosecution, Fenton went on a £26,000 spending spree in Portugal paying directly from his relative’s account.

He also splashed out a further £400,000 in the UK, Portugal and Chile making “large currency transactions”, jurors were told.

Mr Traversi said: “He was able to do this because of his dishonest usurpation of her rights over her money, which he should have looked after and spent for her benefit and not for his own purposes. None of the money was recovered.”

The jury heard that the fraud was only discovered in November 2013 when staff at the Romford Care Centre, in Essex, became concerned as thousands of pounds worth of bills for her care were outstanding.

Her social worker, Monica Chitambo, who assessed Miss Ells mental capacity, applied for a Court of Protection Order and her bank accounts were frozen and examined.

Mr Traversi explained: “It became apparent that there had been many withdrawals and transfers from her accounts effected by Mr Fenton, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“It also became apparent that the house she had owned in Romford. at which the defendant was living at the time, had been sold. No attempt was made by him to pay for her care or to support her financially in any way.”

Police were called and Fenton was arrested at Stansted Airport on April 15 2014.

On interview, Fenton admitted taking the money but said he had power of attorney to do so. He admitted selling her house but said he was planning to buy apartments in Israel for Miss Ell’s retirement.

He was charged with two counts of fraud.

Mr Traversi said: “He occupied a position of trust in Miss Ell’s regard by reason of his kinship, his expressed concern for her welfare and the responsibility imposed on him by the power granted to him.”

“He abused that trust by taking money from her accounts for his own purposes, by transferring money from her accounts to his own, by arranging the sale of her property and transferring the proceeds in tranches to his own account, by making payments to others from his own account from the money transferred there from Miss Ell’s account,” said Mr Traversi.

Mrs Ells, who was unmarried with no children, passed away on October 5, 2014, at the age of 100.

The case continues.