Wigan pensioner illegally kept son's care payments

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

An elderly mother employed as a personal assistant for her son committed fraud when she kicked him out of the house and continued to receive payments, a court heard.

Margaret Kearsley, 74, received money to support her son Peter, who is partially sighted and has deep vein thrombosis in his legs.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard he was eligible for direct payments from Wigan Council to fund his care and he used this to hire his mother as his personal assistant.

But Susan Fulford, prosecuting for the council, said concerns were raised when an email was sent to the local authority in April 2018.

She said: “This email concluded Peter Kearsley was homeless and his parents rarely saw him. The direct payment was immediately suspended.

“This direct payment was being paid for Peter Kearsley to employ Margaret Kearsley as his personal assistant while he was living at the property with her and she was providing personal assistance such as meals and care with any personal needs.”

The court heard Kearsley said she went to her son’s home to help him with washing, dressing and meals.

He was evicted from his property and moved into her house for two weeks, but she threw him out on August 15, 2017 after he stole from her and her ex-partner. She did not provide any care after that, but the payments continued to be made by the council.

Mrs Fulford said: “She stated that she knew this was wrong and was dishonest. She admitted to keeping £100 for herself, even though she was doing nothing for it. She withdrew the remaining cash for her son and gave it to him when he went to the property each month.”

Mr Kearsley confirmed he had no fixed address and was sleeping on a friend’s sofa when he was contacted by a social care officer in May last year, but he failed to attend a meeting to discuss the payments, the court heard. An audit by the council calculated Kearsley, of Belmont Avenue, Bickershaw, had received £4,388.36 in overpayments. She has given back £260, but no repayments have been made since May this year and she still owes £4,128.36.

Magistrates heard she had no previous convictions and was “quite ashamed” of being in court. Kearsley pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation. Magistrates imposed a two-year conditional discharge and ordered her to pay a £20 victim surcharge. She was told the council would speak to her about the outstanding balance.