An estate agent boss has been jailed for fleecing an elderly couple out of more than £260,000 leaving them destitute after abusing his Power of Attorney position to funnel cash into his failing business.
Darren Aston befriended the pensioners a 92-year-old woman and her 87-year-old male friend and soon adopted the role of Good Samaritan by running errands, accompanying them on hospital visits, and cooking Sunday lunch.
But Birmingham Crown Court heard 42-year-old Aston, far from the philanthropist his care act implied, was cynically paving a path to the couples life savings.
And after being awarded sole Power of Attorney over their assets granted due to his victims deteriorating health he drained their bank accounts and used the cash for personal use and to prop up his business.
Aston who ran Key Moves in Yardley initially denied two counts of fraud but, on day one of his Birmingham Crown Court trial, changed his plea and admitted the offences. And today (Feb 21) he was jailed for five years.
Summing up, His Honour Judge Inman said Aston's actions had caused extreme harm to his victims, not only leaving them financially destitute but also confused and worried.
He added that his 92-year-old victim wanted to live out her days at home but could no longer afford the care she needed to realise those wishes.
Investigating officer DC Vicky Henry, said: "Aston transferred large sums of money on a regular basis to help clear his debt she left his elderly victims financially barren with little or no balance left in their bank accounts.
"Aston slyly weaved his way into the couples confidence, he played the role of a helping hand there to offer support but all along he was targeting their money to help dig himself out of a financial hole.
"Through our detailed enquiries we established a strong case against Aston, showing when he'd removed money without permission, yet he insisted his innocence until the very last minute.
"We will recover as much of the money as possible from him, and seizing assets, under the Proceeds of Crime Act."
Aston's scam was exposed when his 92-year-old victim told a social worker of her fears he may have cashed in £30,000 worth of premium bonds as the couple were no longer receiving regular payments.
West Midlands Polices Economic Crime Unit probed Aston's financial dealings and unearthed a number of cheques and bankers drafts made out to Key Moves totalling almost s160,000 plus a consistent pattern of sizeable cash withdrawals.
Aston claimed much of the money was a private loan agreement he intended to pay back and that he also had permission to take out cash in bits and bobs.
But investigators revealed what Aston, from Union Road in Shirley, classed as bits and bobs actually amounted to s100,000.
The pensioners first met Aston in 2006 after popping into his Yardley agency to pick up free local newspapers.
It became a weekly visit and by 2008 hed been written into their wills and stood to pocket much of their estate and granted Power of Attorney as deteriorating health made it more difficult for them to visit the bank and manage their finances.
DC Henry, added: He quickly rolled out sob stories about his struggling business and between them his victims handed over £6,000 this clearly whetted Aston's appetite and on being granted Power of Attorney he became much greedier.
As attorney he had access to all their accounts, including shares and savings plans. Attorneys have certain duties, including not taking advantage of their position and to act in the best interest of the attorney donor at all times but Aston's actions couldn't have been more at odds with those promises.
This is a strong sentence handed down to Aston and should act as a deterrent to anyone who feels preying on society's most vulnerable is an easy, low-risk crime.
Our economic crime and public protection units, plus the great early inquiries taken on by social services, have combined to ensure Aston has faced justice.