‘Greedy’ fraudster stole £14,000 of his sister’s benefits money

Ian Lawton.
Ian Lawton.

A ‘mean and selfish’ fraudster stole over £14,000 from his vulnerable sister after forging her name in order to take her disability benefits.

Ian Lawton was jailed for 20 months after he admitting stealing the money from his sibling over a period of almost four years.

Leeds Crown Court heard Lawton’s 66-year-old sister had Down’s syndrome and suffered from other health problems.

Lawton forged his sister’s name in order to obtain a bank card in August 2012 and used it to withdraw her disability living allowance from a post office account.

Robert Galley, prosecuting, said the offences did not come to light until May 2016 after his sister moved into sheltered accommodation in Wakefield.

A review of her finances was carried out by Wakefield Council because of her change in circumstances.

Mr Galley said the victim did not realise she was entitled to the benefit and did not know that it had been paid into an account in her name.

An investigation was carried out and the victim was shown documentation purporting to contain her signature.

The victim confirmed she had not signed the papers. Lawton was arrested but denied any offending and claimed not to have any access to his sister’s account.

He then admitted the offending after being confronted with CCTV footage showing him making a withdrawal from a cash machine.

Lawton, of Cumbrian Way, Thornes, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to fraud and theft.

The court heard Lawton appeared before magistrates in 2013 after pleading guilty to stealing money from the same victim and was given a community order.

He was also given a six month jail term in 1992 for stealing from his employer.

A probation officer told the court Lawton had admitted that his offending was mean and selfish.

He said the offence was carried out at a time when Lawton, who works as a courier, was struggling to pay his mortgage and bills.

Lawton’s barrister, James Littlehales, said his client was the sole carer for his 94-year-old mother who would suffer if he was sent immediately to prison.

Recorder Nicholas Lumley, QC, adjourned the case briefly so Lawton could contact social services to inform them that his mother would need help as he was facing custody.

Recorder Lumley said: “It is rather grotesque that he has not already done that.”

Sentencing Lawton he said: “This was fraudulent activity sustained over a period of time and you targeted the victim on the basis of vulnerability.

“I have read with care every single word about the state in which your mother finds herself.

“It is said that you look after her every need. Quite why, with this responsibility on your shoulders, you chose to carry out this offence is a complete mystery to me.

“You committed this offending for no other reason than your own greed.

“You have accepted that this offence was mean and selfish. I could not agree more.”

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