A truck driver in England who posed as a dead neighbour so he could steal his savings has been sentenced to jail for obtaining benefit by deception.
Dean Thompson acted as an “unofficial carer” for his neighbour, David Traylen, for two decades before he succumbed to his ailments in 2017, aged 78.
After he passed away, the 54-year-old truck driver from the city of Hull registered Mr Traylen’s death with Hull City Council, during which he called First Direct bank impersonating the pensioner and requesting the £28,000 in his savings account to be transferred into his current account.
During the impersonation, Mr Thompson told the bank he was “very ill and wanted to sort out his funds”.
He then wrote himself a cheque for £25,000 and went on a spending spree for two years using his deceased neighbour’s money.
In November 2019, however, Mr Traylen’s sister, who resided in New Zealand, came to Hull to claim her brother’s estate.
A solicitor from the United Kingdom was hired to liquidate the property, and that’s when Mr Thompson’s fraudulent actions came to light.
Indeed, what unearthed was evidence that he had stolen a whopping £61,356.25 from the dead man’s accounts.
Court Hears Fraudster Spent Dead Man’s Money on Family’s Daily Spending
Mr Thompson was arrested for his fraudulent actions.
He initially told police he had received the money as a gift from the man he had cared for, before eventually admitting to a string of offences, including five counts of fraud and one count of theft.
In March 2022, the man faced court over the matter where it was heard the driver used the money for his family’s day-to-day spending.
Moreover, he withdrew a further £6,367 using the dead man’s debit card and accessed a further £30,000 of his uncashed bonds in October 2019.
Mitigating, Charlotte Baines, highlighted that Mr Thompson had good intentions and only ever looked after his neighbour who had no others to care for him.
“His intentions were good, he supported David Traylen when he was alive, David had no one to care for him when he was alive,” Ms Baines said.
“The defendant had meaningful intentions.”
Ms Baines added that her client was a diligent worker and was attempting to pay back the money he took.
“Thompson is someone with a strong work ethic, working for most of his adult life, he had a secure job at Stagecoach Transport,” she said.
“He has been trying to put together the funds to pay back what he took, he wants to put it right.”
She added that Mr Thompson had no previous convictions, saying, “He knows what he did was despicable and utterly regrets his actions”.
In sentencing, Judge Peter Kelson QC said he accepted Mr Thompson once helped to support the victim but that his actions were deceptive.
“I accept that you did previously support the victim before his demise,” Judge Kelson said.
“You described yourself as his unofficial carer, that is an underestimation of the support you provided him.
“However, after his death, you immediately transferred money to yourself by deceiving his bank.
“The aggravating features of this case are the abuse of trust and sophisticated nature of the offence in that it took significant planning. This surpasses the threshold for immediate custody.”
As a consequence, Judge Kelson sentenced Mr Thompson to two years in jail.
Fraud Charges in New South Wales
The offence of fraud charges in New South Wales – which is also commonly termed “obtaining benefit by deception” – takes place where the offender engages in deception and dishonest conduct leading to property or a financial advantage being obtained for themselves or another person, or financial disadvantage caused to another person.
If you are in NSW, this is outlined in section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900.
Section 192E prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail for the offence where a person is found guilty.
According to this section also, a person’s obtaining of property belonging to another is considered dishonest even if the person is willing to pay for the property.
As per section 192B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), deception is defined as any deception by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law, including a deception as to the intentions of the person using the deception or any other person.
Included in the definition of deception is also conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.
Dishonesty refers to being dishonest in line with the standards of ordinary people and known by the defendant to be dishonest in line with the standards of ordinary people.
To be found guilty of a fraud offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person acted dishonestly and that a benefit or financial advantage was obtained. Each fraud charge will have certain elements, which may vary from charge to charge. Each and every element of a charge must first be proven by the prosecution before a verdict of guilty can be returned by a court. This is a fundamental principle of law in New South Wales, and across Australia generally.
By Sahar Adatia.