Man left frail relative 'in squalor' after embezzling £62,000

David Broadfoot made 195 withdrawals after taking the pensioner's card and leaving him penniless over a two-year period.

Uddingston man left frail elderly relative ‘living in squalor’ after taking £62,000 from bank account Website

A man who stole £62,000 from his frail great uncle leaving him penniless and living in “squalor” has been jailed for 27 months.

David Broadfoot, 36, preyed on Alexander Steele effectively emptying the pensioner’s bank account.

The crime only emerged when Mr Steele’s great niece Donna Marie Orr visited his home in Uddingston, Lanarkshire.

She was horrified at the state of the property – it was dirty, there was no gas and electric or any food in the cupboards.

Ms Orr sobbed as she told jurors: “I felt that I had let him down.”

The concerned 50-year-old soon took control of Alexander’s affairs. 

Following a trawl of his bank statements, it was discovered Broadfoot had pocketed a total of £61,830 in 195 cash withdrawals over a two-year period.

Mr Steele told his great niece that Broadfoot had earlier got his bank card to buy “messages and tobacco”.

Broadfoot – a dad of one – was convicted of embezzlement at Glasgow Sheriff Court. 

The charge spanned between January 2015 and November 2017.

Mr Steele died of cancer aged 83 in 2018 without seeing justice being done.

Broadfoot, of the city’s Tollcross, did not even attend his funeral.

Sheriff Brian Cameron said: “On the basis of the evidence, the jury heard that this was a prolonged abuse of trust against your uncle who was frail and living in squalor.

“In my view there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.”

The trial heard that Ms Orr had not been in regular contact with Alexander until he fell ill in 2017.

Ms Orr and her mother Alexis McGarry visited the OAP in hospital.

He was described as “severely malnourished”.

The pair continued to see him before he was able to be discharged.

Jurors were told Broadfoot did not visit him in hospital.

Ms Orr and her mum were left stunned when they discovered how Mr Steele had been living.

The electricity and gas had been cut off as bills had not been paid. The council tax was also in arrears.

Ms Orr said: “He was not paying it as his pension was being taken out of his bank account.”

Prosecutor Frankie Morgan asked Ms Orr about how the house looked.

The emotional witness replied: “It was horrific – absolutely horrific – it was worse looking than a hovel.

“The couch had been ripped. The fridge and everything was mouldy – I don’t know how he had been fed.”

“There was no food in the cupboards or the fridge.”

Ms Orr asked Mr Steele at the time about his bank account.

She told jurors: “He said David had his bank card to buy messages and tobacco.”

It was also discovered that other new bank cards were missing.

Ms Orr tried contacting Broadfoot, but got no reply.

She eventually became Mr Steele’s Power of Attorney allowing her to check his bank statements and uncovering what Broadfoot had done.

This also included him paying a phone bill and transferring £500 to his own account with a reference “Xmas”.

Broadfoot gave evidence during the trial and insisted he had “permission” to use his great uncle’s bank card.

Claiming to be a Good Samaritan, he said he was the OAP’s “only help”.

But, it appeared Broadfoot may have targeted Mr Steele due to his own money issues.

The court heard his account was overdrawn nine times and that he paid a debt collection firm £100.

He also needed handouts from friends and relatives including £2,000 from his sister.

Prosecutor Mr Morgan quizzed Broadfoot over what the pensioner’s money went on with Mr Steele having earlier spent £150 to £180 a week on food, tobacco and petrol.

Mr Morgan put to him: “Yet, £1,700 on average a month was being taken out?”

Broadfoot replied: “Yes.”

The court learned after the verdict that Mr Steele’s bank reimbursed the stolen cash.

It was also revealed that Broadfoot has a previous conviction in 2012 for embezzlement in which he received a 16-month sentence.

Michael Tierney, defending, told the sentencing that Broadfoot maintains his innocence but respects the verdict of the jury.

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