A 56-year-old Washington mother has been jailed after squandering £455,000 that was left by her son in his will for somebody else.
Richard Walker passed away while performing his duties as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2013,. His will specified who should receive the sum and his mother, Kathryn Walker, was named as executor.
Rather than managing or investing the money, Kathryn spent the money on items such as cars, caravans, horses, private license plates, and paying off her own debts, according to a testimony given in Newcastle Crown Court.
Nick Lane, prosecuting at Newcastle Crown Court, said:
“Several years later she bumped into someone who passed on information that Kathryn Walker was supposed to be ‘minted’ since her son’s death. She had recently bought horses and stables.
This concerned (the woman) because she understood from Mr Walker that his mum was not good with money. She had survived on benefits and had borrowed money from her son.”
Walker was asked to provide information in letters after the women gave solicitors instructions to look into the money, but no answer was received. Additionally, she disobeyed a directive from Newcastle probate register asking her to submit an inventory of the estate.
In 2020, the enforcement action was initiated. When the police were notified, investigations revealed that she had wasted the money within four months of receiving it.
Walker vehemently disputed wasting the money during an interview. She claimed to have cleared personal debts and rent arrears in addition to spending £18,000 on a memorial garden at her residence. She had additionally funded the overseas medical care for a friends child.
“She accepted she knew the money was not hers to spend. She said she was sorry for her actions,” Mr Lane added in court. However, the intended beneficiary’s representative said in a victim impact statement: “She has totally breached her position of trust by using this money for her own benefit.”
Walker pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of trust and was jailed for three years and four months.
Judge Julie Clemitson told Walker:
“At the age of 56 years old without having been in court before, it’s a tragedy you appear here today in respect of such a serious offence.
You had spent the entirety of the inheritance and there’s now absolutely nothing left. This was a fraud which took place over a sustained period of time and it was a gross breach of trust. It is the loss of a life-changing sum of money.
There has been bereavement after bereavement. She saw it in some sense as blood money after the pain of losing her son. She tried to anaesthetise that pain by spending the money she had no right to spend.”