Ex-UKIP councillor Stephanie Todd jailed for stealing £46,000 from pensioner

20 July 2018, 14:52

A former UKIP councillor who stole £46,000 from a vulnerable widower in his 90s has been jailed.

Stephanie Todd, 57, raised suspicion when she tried to change Philip Wall's will to become the main beneficiary, when he had planned to leave all his money to the Cats Protection charity.

The solicitors of the victim, who was profoundly deaf and confused, became suspicious and alerted police when she tried to switch legal firms.

By that point, she had already been regularly siphoning off payments of up to £300 a time from cashpoints, carefully staying below the £1,300 a month the former GPO engineer received from his pension.

Mr Wall, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, had no children. He died in February, aged 98, after seeing Todd convicted of theft in December 2017.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Ashurst jailed Todd for two and a half years, saying she cynically portrayed herself as a "saint" by helping the pensioner.

"You were a forceful woman in your 50s, who exploited that position to exert influence on a very old man," the judge said.

"He was 98 when he died, knowing that someone who he had trusted had stolen from him."

Todd and Mr Wall met by chance in the street in August 2013. She befriended him, cleaned his home and helped to look after him.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said: "Essentially she tried to help him following that accidental meeting.

"What becomes clear, in a very short space of time, is that this defendant made every effort to rearrange Mr Wall's financial affairs."

Mr Wall was a modest, frugal, independent man.

The judge said his late wife loved cats and had made him promise to leave his money to a charity that helped them.

Over three years, Todd withdrew more than £46,000 from his bank account, using his card.

Her sentencing was delayed after she suffered a stroke just before the jury came back to return the verdict, and she now uses a walking frame.

A month before his death, Mr Wall made a victim statement to police, saying: "I trusted Stephanie Todd and I fear she has betrayed that trust by stealing money from me when I was in a vulnerable position.

"Since being told of Stephanie Todd's actions I have been constantly anxious and I have worried over this daily and I found it difficult to trust people.

"I am 98 and the fact someone has stolen from me has marred the final years of my life."

Todd, of Shute Road, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, stood as a UKIP candidate in the 2015 general election. She had defected from the Tories in 2013, and was a councillor on Richmondshire District Council.

Simon Perkins, defending, said: "Miss Todd is remorseful for her conduct. She accepts she has thrown away 57 years of good character."

The case comes days after another former UKIP councillor was jailed for life for murdering his wife - months after she discovered his affair with their son's partner.