Comment: Sorry tale of greed and the betrayal of a friend’s trust

Herald Series: Sorry tale of greed and the betrayal of a friend’s trust Sorry tale of greed and the betrayal of a friend’s trust

EVERY day there are stories of despicable deeds in Oxford Crown Court.

But the conduct of Councillor John Morgan is one of the sorrier tales of greed and betrayal in recent times.

Yesterday, a jury at Oxford Crown Court convicted Morgan of stealing £154,000 from his “friend” Beryl Gittens, an Alzheimer’s sufferer who died at the age of 92.

The prosecution case was that he gambled the money away on fruit machines and on a trip to Las Vegas because of his gambling addiction.

Morgan, a councillor on Vale of White Horse District Council for Charlton, Wantage, claimed Mrs Gittens had wanted him to gamble away all her money to stop her extended family inheriting it.

That defence was so aptly described by prosecutor Michael Roques as “frankly ludicrous”, a point the jury apparently agreed with when they came to convict the 75-year-old.

It just didn’t bear scrutiny.

Even if there was even a scintilla of truth in his story, no intelligent person – let alone a councillor – would start frittering away tens of thousands of pounds on the say-so of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Morgan promoted himself as a man the community could trust when he stood for, and won, public office.

He also portrayed himself as a man friends could trust by his supposed care of the ailing Mrs Gittens.

The saving grace is that Mrs Gittens passed away without knowing how she had been so cruelly betrayed.

What Morgan did was appalling and if Judge Mary Jane Mowat does decide that a prison sentence is justified when he appears again next month, it will be fully deserved.


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