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Woman who "exploited" vulnerable aunt to defraud her of £46k jailed for two years

Woman who

Saturday 10 March 2018

Woman who "exploited" vulnerable aunt to defraud her of £46k jailed for two years

Saturday 10 March 2018

A 36-year-old woman has been sentenced to two years imprisonment by the Royal Court after she forged 38 cheques belonging to her 68-year-old aunt - who was described as a vulnerable elderly lady - and fraudulently obtained over £46,200.

Kelly Ann Callec, a mother of three, was her paternal aunt's closest relative in Jersey and was looking after her when she forged the cheques between 2013 and 2015.

Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit told the Court that after the death of her husband in 2000, the health of Mrs Callec's aunt deteriorated. The aunt's brother, who was regularly in contact with her knew that Mrs Callec was visiting her at least once a week, and helping her when she needed. Although he did not know Mrs Callec well he said he trusted her "100%."

The Court heard that the brother was first alerted to the fraudulent activity on his sister's account in July 2015 when £2,000 were drawn by cheque while she was in the Intensive Care Unit. The Crown Advocate said: "She had suffered a minor stroke and had fallen down the stairs. She was also increasingly affected by the onset of dementia, a serious liver condition, diabetes and impaired vision due to cataracts."

When the brother looked into the cheque book, the stub was missing. He then discovered a number of other cheque stubs were missing, while the remaining ones had been completed in full by the aunt. The brother inspected other cheque books and found further stubs missing for a total of £38,600. He then identified payments of up to £2,000 being drawn from his sister's account on each of the cheques for which the stub was missing. "All were in favour of K Callec and all bore what purported to be the signature of Mrs Callec," said the Crown Advocate, adding that the aunt "was shocked and deeply upset."

Pen writing signature

Pictured: Mrs Callec said that the monies received from her aunt were "gifts as part of an early inheritance."

When she was first interviewed about the cheques, Mrs Callec said she had a "very close" relationship with her aunt who had helped her "quite a lot financially" over the years. She said they had become closer after her uncle died as her aunt had no family in Jersey.

Mrs Callec said she and her partner had financial difficulties and that her aunt had said: "I'd rather help you now and see you enjoy it than you know, leaving it for you when I'm dead." Mrs Callec said she had been present when her aunt wrote out and signed the cheques, which varied in amounts reaching £2,000 when Mrs Callec moved to a larger home or took her three children to Disneyland Paris over New Year. Mrs Callec affirmed that all the monies received were "gifts as part of an early inheritance."

The Court heard that a forensic handwriting analysis provided "conclusive evidence" that the aunt didn't write out or sign any of the cheques to Mrs Callec. An expert also confirmed that the person who had filled in the cheques, had also signed them. Mrs Callec maintained her aunt had signed the cheques when presented with the evidence. She however refused to give a handwriting sample and could not explain why her aunt would have removed the stubs.

A further twelve transactions to Mrs Callec's benefit were then found, bringing the total to £46,236. When questioned about the payments Mrs Callec said her aunt had been very generous towards her and would help her with the payments of bills. She said all the money had been given willingly and that she hadn't done anything wrong and her conscience was clear.

Jersey Royal Court

Pictured: Mrs Callec was sentenced to two years in prison in Royal Court.

The Crown Advocate said that Mrs Callec was a "highly high trusted family member, who was welcomed in her aunt's house to assist her with shopping and cleaning." He said she was acting as an unofficial carer and took advantage of the situation and abused her position of trust as she knew her aunt's health was deteriorating. He said she had done so to enjoy "a higher standard of living than she and her family would have otherwise enjoyed." He said that although Mrs Callec had pleaded guilty she had focused "on the justification for her actions and not on the effect they had on the victim."

Advocate Adam Harrison, who was defending Mrs Callec, urged Court for mercy and asked them to spare her a prison sentence. He said she had started visiting her aunt on a weekly basis in 2002 to keep her company. "She noticed the cheque books lying around and regrettably she gave in to the temptation," he told Court. He explained that Mrs Callec had initially been motivated because she struggled to manage her family’s financial affairs and that she didn't use the money for luxuries.

Returning the sentence, the Bailiff Sir William Bailhache, who was sitting with Jurats Collette Crill and Charles Blampied, told Mrs Callec she had not only took the cheques and forged them, but also hid the stubs in a "very serious breach of trust." He said he did not see it appropriate to spare her imprisonment, especially since the appeal for mercy was based on the effect a prison sentence would have on her three children. He said: "It has been said in this Court many times that the person who has the first obligation of worrying about the children is you. It is not fair to put that obligation on the court. This sentence will teach them that dishonesty does not pay. They need to know that because we all need to know that."

He added: "We have taken into account the references put before us. They all speak of other qualities which are good things to hold onto through this proceedings." He then concluded the Crown's conclusions were right and sentenced Mrs Callec to two years in prison.

Police Headquarters

Pictured: The Police described Mrs Callec's actions "despicable."

Following the sentencing, the Police called the case a "disgusting breach of trust," saying that Mrs Callec "...was purporting to be visiting an elderly woman to check on her welfare but was instead defrauding her of around £46k."

Inspector Craig Jackson said: “Callec’s crime was nothing short of despicable, she exploited a vulnerable old lady for her own financial gain. This woman trusted her implicitly only to be treated in this way." 

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