A YORKSHIRE police officer who stole nearly £23,000 from a frail 94-year-old widow after winning her trust and gaining access to her bank accounts was today jailed for six years.
Jonathan Webb, 45, transferred thousands from the pensioner’s accounts into those he has access to and even forged a new will to gain control of her £400,000 estate when she died, Leeds Crown Court was told.
The father-of-five from Millhouses, Sheffield, a South Yorkshire Police officer with 20 years experience, was told by a judge that he had “brought shame” on himself and his force with his actions.
Webb previously admitted 11 offences of theft, fraud and forgery in the Sheffield area between June and December last year. He resigned his position as a police constable in May this year.
The court was told that after volunteering to attend a local hospital where the pensioner had fallen, he was able to gain access to her bank accounts and began to help himself to the funds.
Webb closed a Scottish Widows account in her name and transferred £18,617 to an account he had access to. He then made daily purchases or withdrawals of between £100 and £250 to an eventual value of £4,855.35 from the pensioner’s Natwest account.
Using a Santander account he ordered a cash card and set up internet banking, before making 64 withdrawals from cash points totalling £16,710.
Webb also set up online banking on a separate HBOS account, and bought ten items from the website Amazon, including a Kindle and garden tools, at a total value of £1,360.17.
The court was told he used the victim’s existing will to create a new forged version, which if accepted would have made him beneficiary of the majority of her £400,000 estate and deprived several charities of tens of thousands of pounds.
Webb, who had five children with three previous wives, was said to have debts of £60,000 and a “social life which had gone beyond his means”.
Sam Green, representing Webb, said: “He knows very well he has sacrificed his good character, his career and his decency on the altar of greed.”
Webb was only discovered after he stole two envelopes containing cash from a house where he had been sent to investigate a burglary.
Police later discovered that he also stole a set of treasured Second World War medals from another home after being called to a burglary there.
Judge Guy Kearl QC, sentencing, told Webb: “You have undermined the public confidence in the police service. As a police officer you are trusted to behave in an honest manner and you have breached that trust.”
Describing his forgery of a new will, he said: “That was a sophisticated forgery in which you anticipated receiving a large amount of money, having skillfully planned what was to happen.”
He added: “You have expressed remorse though I note you did not stop until you were caught. You did not need this money, you have a good, trusted, well-paid job. You used this money to support your lifestyle and you took it out of greed.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Alisha Kaye, Crown Advocate with CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, described Webb’s actions as a “calculated and despicable series of crimes”.
She said: “Instead of upholding the law, he systematically broke it, using his position as a police officer to gain the trust of his victims.
“It is hard to imagine a more contemptible breach of trust. Far from being a pillar of society, Webb has proved himself to be a common criminal. I hope the sentence he has received today will bring some measure of closure to his victims.”
Detective Superintendent Terry Mann of South Yorkshire Police said: “Sadly, Jonathan Webb was a former officer but I consider him a criminal who fully deserves the sentence imposed upon him.
“I know I speak for all of his former colleagues that he was an utter disgrace to the uniform. He has brought shame to the whole of South Yorkshire Police and the police service nationally.
“He preyed on a most vulnerable victim, choosing to steal her money in a most devious and deceitful way and then, after stealing the money from the burglary tried to plan his way out of it.
“I wish to publicly express my thanks to the public for coming forward with information in this case.”