Teenage orphan’s trustee, 39, who helped herself to up to £60,000 of the 17-year-old’s inheritance money is jailed for two years
A trustee of a teenage orphan’s inheritance who helped herself to up to £60,000 of the boy’s money has been jailed for two years and three months. Mother-of-three Melaney Watford, 39, was a close friend of the parents of the teen, who turns 18 years-old later this year, and had financial control of his trust fund. However, she withdrew £250 cash on an almost daily basis and has none left to pay compensation.
Watford, from Mitcham, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by abuse of position between May 25, 2015 and January 19, last year.Prosecutor Mr. John Reilly told Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court: ‘It has always been difficult to put a monetary value on this fraud.’
Investigators believe £30,000-£60,000 was stolen by Watford, who is also the boy’s legal guardian.
He was left a £125,000 lump sum, plus £200 per month following the tragic death of his mother and father from natural causes within months of each other.
She spent the money on takeaways, dentist trips and employing boyfriends or relatives to carry out refurbishments on a house that will be the boy’s when he turns 18 later this year. Recorder Aiden Christie QC told Watford: ‘This offence is so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified.
‘Obviously you are of limited means and no amount I could realistically order you to pay could compensate this young man for what you have put him through.’
Ordering Watford to pay just £1500 he added: ‘I know that will not compensate him for the monetary loss he suffered, never mind the emotional loss.’
Watford’s lawyer, June Warwick, said: ‘The defendant took on a young boy who lost two parents in tragic circumstances and for the first six months there was no income.’
Watford says her own money was used up initially and she had ‘no financial or emotional support’.
The lawyer added: ‘She has limited education and no knowledge of trusts and she had no guidance or information.’
Watford has two teenage children of her own, plus a toddler. ‘She then treated the money in the same way she treated the children and put it all together and mismanaged it.
‘There were no luxuries, no holidays. All she benefited from was the odd takeaway and a trip to the dentist.’
Mr. Reilly said: ‘The lump sum is reduced on an almost daily basis, two hundred and fifty pounds is withdrawn in cash on an almost daily basis.’A lot of it seems to have gone on renovations and she employed relatives or boyfriends for work.’
Article written by Luke Andrews for the Mail Online
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