RELATIVES of an elderly Alzheimer’s disease sufferer who had £154,000 stolen by a former Conservative councillor have described their disgust after learning he only has to repay £5.
Last year John Morgan was jailed for five years after he was convicted of dishonestly taking the money from Beryl Gittens, who he claimed told him to gamble away her life savings.
The 75-year-old’s crime cost West Berkshire Council £76,000, which would have gone towards paying for the 92-year-old’s care, and deprived her son Roger of a £71,000 inheritance.
Prosecutors were hoping to get both parties compensation by selling the home Morgan shared with his ex-wife Gill in Highclere Gardens, Wantage, thought to be worth £250,000.
But at a confiscation hearing yesterday at Oxford Crown Court Alan Blake, prosecuting, said Morgan’s former partner had now been awarded the house in divorce proceedings.
The barrister said it was with “regret” that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided it could not oppose this civil court ruling, which had left Morgan with no remaining assets.
Recorder Patrick Hamlin said in light of the prosecution’s decision the former Wantage and Vale of White Horse District councillor would have 28 days to pay a nominal sum of £5.
Mrs Gitten’s son Roger, 72, told the Oxford Mail from his home in Perth, Western Australia, he couldn’t believe Morgan only had to pay £5.
He said: “There is nothing much we can do if that is the ruling, but it’s pretty rough.
“I feel so helpless, because I'm over here.
“I trusted that guy.
“Thank God my mother is not alive.”
Mrs Gittens’ sister-in-law Audrey Pagett, 80, said: “That is not justice.
“That is disgusting. He’s had all my nephew’s money.
“I am just an old lady up a lane, but that does not seem right. I was determined to do something for my sister-in-law and now I do not feel I have achieved what I set out to do.
“Roger should have had something.
“She left all her money to Roger and he has not received anything.
“John Morgan spent it all.”
Mr Blake told Recorder Patrick Hamlin the CPS had tried to challenge the order, but expert advice had warned against it.
He said: “Those responsible for proceeds of crime at the CPS have taken advice from a specialist in the area of matrimonial finance.
“They have been told the prospects of bringing the matrimonial home back into this are very, very unfavourable.
“That is the advice of an expert in the field.
“It is a matter of regret, not only to the financial investigators, but to the crown that the county court acted in the manner that they did.”