A social worker who stole more than £550,000 from vulnerable adults and spent the cash on luxury watches and holidays has been jailed.
Hilary Tideswell, 63, was given a sentence of seven years and nine months at Leeds Crown Court on Monday, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which described it as an “appalling abuse of trust”.
The CPS said that Tideswell was asked to assess vulnerable pensioner Constance Lupton, 81, but should have stopped contact with her when she found she had £500,000 in savings and a house.
Instead, the Bradford Community Council care worker took steps to obtain power of attorney over Mrs Lupton’s affairs without her knowing, giving her full access to her assets.
According to the CPS, Tideswell started spending this money on Rolex watches and holidays, sharing the cash with husband David Tideswell, 66, and son, Neil Moorhouse, 42.
She then assessed another man, Alexander Ritchie, determining that he should not return home.
When Mr Ritchie died shortly after, Tideswell used money she had taken from Mrs Lupton to pay for his funeral before forging a will, obtaining probate and transferring £27,372 of his cash into her own account.
The CPS said Tideswell’s son lived in Mrs Lupton’s house rent free before the defendant sold it when the stolen funds started dwindling.
Some of the profits of this house sale were spent on a plot of land, some was used to pay off Tideswell’s debt and the rest was squandered, the CPS said.
It said that, when the Office of the Public Guardian began investigating, Tideswell even forged notes and insisted that Ms Lupton wanted to leave her money as a gift.
The CPS said that when Moorhouse was asked if he thought his mother was involved in something illicit, he admitted he had thought she might be as she was “swanning off on holiday a lot”.
Tideswell, of Wakefield Road, Halifax, pleaded guilty to fraud offences and her husband and son were found guilty after a trial of converting criminal property.
David Tideswell, of Regent Road, Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 230 hours of unpaid work.
Moorhouse, of Sunbridge Road, Bradford, was also given a two-year suspended sentence with 250 hours of unpaid work.
Kim Holden, from the CPS, said: “Tideswell was entrusted to care for some of the most vulnerable people in society and she used this power for her own selfish gain, taking over half-a-million pounds and spending it lavishly.”
Ms Holden said: “Tideswell forged notes in an effort to cover what she had done and her husband feigned he was unaware, but the prosecution was able to prove otherwise.
“Criminality of this nature represents an appalling abuse of trust and it is essential that offenders such as the Tideswells are brought to justice and dealt with accordingly.”