A WEALTHY elderly widow who plunged into debt after her only son plundered nearly £500,000 from her bank accounts, died just hours before a court ordered the convicted crook to pay part of the money back.
Lady Denys Pain, of Eddlethorpe Hall, near Malton, North Yorkshire, was defrauded after her war hero husband Lieutenant-General Sir Rollo Pain, died of cancer in 2005, and her only son was entrusted with her financial affairs.
At a confiscation hearing at Harrogate Magistrates' Court yesterday, 53-year-old Michael Augustus Rollo Pain – who is currently serving a three-year sentence for fraud – was ordered to repay 166,000 stolen from his mother.
But following the hearing, it emerged Lady Pain, 86, had died in a hospice in Kettering at 7.30am that same morning, after being admitted 10 days ago when she suffered a stroke.
In an emotional interview on the court steps, her son-in-law Sean Mahony said she had been devastated by the theft and died not knowing whether the money would ever be paid back.
"The last few years of her life were almost a living hell", he said.
"We kept the confiscation hearing well away from her it was something that she did not need to know.
"We are all very sad and it is a great upset.
"His father was a very distinguished general, he got the MC in the war and was a highly principled and honourable man.
"I have never known a man quite like him.
"What has happened is a total disbelief.
"I don't think anyone quite understands why he did it and he is obviously incapable of taking any advice
"Obviously he loved himself more than he loved his mother."
Pain, a father-of-one and former army captain, was jailed for three years at York Crown Court last March for five counts of fraud by abuse of position, two counts of obtaining money by deception and one of theft after systematically syphoning off vast sums of money from his mother's accounts.
He transferred the cash into his own bank account to prop up his failing construction business and pay off mortgage arrears, which had left him facing possible eviction from his home near to Eddlethorpe Hall.
The theft was discovered in January 2009 when Pain's sister and Mr Mahony's wife, Audrey, paid a visit from her home in Dubai.
She attempted to withdraw cash from her mother's account and discovered Lady Pain was significantly overdrawn.
The family confronted him and ordered he started to pay the money back but say after he refused, Lady Pain decided without hesitation to involve the police.
The court heard yesterday that Pain, who stole 460,150 from his mother, has money tied up in different accounts and still has some assets to sell, including an excavator and a Volvo HGV remaining from his construction business.
He was ordered by recorder Deborah Sherwin to sell these assets and pay back 166,834 to the family in the next six months, or face a further two-and-a-half years in jail.
It is understood Pain, who appeared in court in a pinstripe suit and yellow tie, had been informed of his mother's death before yesterday's hearing.
Det Constable Neil Jefferson, a financial investigations officer with North Yorkshire Police, said after the hearing: "This was a complicated case and centred around a man who had betrayed his family's trust.
"Pain had a privileged background and was regularly supported by his family throughout his life.
"He was left in a position of trust with the sole responsibility of taking care of his mother.
"Pain abused that trust in the most callous way, using the money to prop up a failing business and to pay mortgage arrears.
"His mother, who sadly passed away this morning, was left devastated by his betrayal.
"The rest of his family were left horrified.
"We hope today's confiscation order gives the Pain family some comfort knowing that justice has now come full circle and at least some of the stolen cash will be repaid."
Pain had previously served as a captain with the Royal Dragoon guards in Germany, the same regiment as his father, who was awarded the Military Cross for extraordinary bravery in repelling a night-time attack by 100 enemy soldiers in the village of Stemmen, Germany, in April 1945.
Sir Rollo was appointed as an aide to the Queen for his heroism, and accompanied her at occasions such as the state opening of Parliament, and was also the Head of British Defence staff in America.