Man stole £56,000 from the great-gran who brought him up

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A MAN who stole £56,000 life savings from the great-grandmother who brought him up has been jailed for 18 months.

Richard Lowery was abandoned by his parents at the age of four and given a roof over his head by his great-grandmother Brenda Lowery, who is now 91.

He systematically rifled her bank account over a seven-year period for living expenses and also to pay £575 in court fines, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

His great-grandmother even wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency and hoping that her 24-year-old great-grandson would not be jailed.

But Judge Michael Murphy told Lowery: “I can understand her views because to her you must be like a son. She stepped up to the mark to care for you when you needed it and has been caring for you, but there are some situations which transcend the wishes of victims.”

Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said Lowery stole the cash from an account she had with the HSBC for 40 years. She lent him her bank card and he was the only one who knew her PIN number.

He used it at cash machines to withdraw money from the account or wrote out cheques payable to himself.

His thieving came to light after his great-grandmother took out an equity release policy on her home with insurance company Aviva and Lowery attempted to obtain £30,000 in three tranches over four months in 2011.

The company called in the police and the discrepancies were discovered. When interviewed by police, Lowery said he became “addicted” to taking the money and did not realise just how much he had stolen.

Vanessa Saxton, for Lowery, said: “His attitude has been one of putting his head in the sand, he is a very quiet individual. Until now he seems to have led a perfectly respectable life and cared for his great-grandmother all his life.”

He still lived with Mrs Lowery but no longer had access to the account. Judge Murphy told him he had used the account as a cash dispenser “to dip into whenever you wanted.”

A proceeds of crime hearing is expected to take place to reimburse Mrs Lowery for her losses.