A wheelchair-bound dad stole thousands from his elderly mother.

Recorder John Hardy QC told John Washbourne he had committed a despicable offence of dishonesty against his elderly mother, who has since died.

But he stopped short of sending the 66-year-old to prison, noting the £2,274 he stole in 2018 and 2019 was a ‘relatively small’ sum and he had an unblemished record for crimes of dishonesty.

Sentencing Washbourne to six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Recorder Hardy said: “However you dress this case up, whatever guise you draw over it, the fact is you committed a despicable offence of dishonesty against an elderly lady who was not merely elderly and infirm but also your mother.

“What your children must think of you I don’t know and I am not going to ask, but I hope they have no intention of doing to you what you did to your mother.”

Banbury Cake:

Washbourne leaves Oxford Crown Court 

Prosecutor John Traversi told Oxford Crown Court yesterday that Mrs Washbourne had consented to some money to go to her son – but had not agreed ‘for the total that actually did go’. His mother was understood to be in her 80s when she had money stolen.

There were no aggravating features to the case, with sentencing guidelines provided to judges recommending a community order.

Thomas Davidson, mitigating, said the offending arose ‘from a certain moral laxity’ rather than hardcore criminal intent.

Washbourne was looking after his mother and her finances at the time, the barrister said. He had sometimes taken money from her account without first asking, then got permission later on. Or he would pay the money back.

Recorder Hardy asked the lawyer: “Are you going to suggest he charged a hefty commission?”

Mr Davidson confirmed his client had not paid back the sums that landed him in court.

His client, who appeared in court in a wheelchair and accompanied by his two children, had diabetes and had suffered a heart attack.

The judge told Washbourne his crimes ‘richly deserved’ a prison sentence. But he added the sums were ‘relatively small although not insignificant’ and he had no record for ‘this kind of offending’.

Washbourne, of Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of theft.

He was ordered to pay £600 costs. No compensation was ordered.

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