Financial abuse of the elderly

At the conclusion of the longest trial in the history of Liverpool Crown Court, lasting for over a year, David Barton (senior) has been convicted of multiple offences of fraud and theft and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. In the words of the Liverpool Echo to Mr Barton, owner of Barton Park care home, has been exposed as “a despicable fraudster who stole millions of pounds from elderly residents”. Judge Steven Everett described him as “one of the most unpleasant people, one of the most dishonest people, one could ever meet. . . His behaviour was nothing short of despicable”.

As the judge explained in his sentencing remarks, describing them as “perhaps the most brazen frauds he had ever come across”, amongst David Barton’s victims were a wealthy couple, Gordon and Katy Willey. Mr Barton brought a multi-million pound civil claim brought against Gordon Willey and Katy Willey’s estate for care and services during their residence at Barton Park care home. The civil proceedings were settled and not pursued to trial, but the Willeys’ family’s defence to this “ultimate greed” on Barton’s part led to the police involvement and investigation prior to the criminal trial.

During 2014-5 David Rees QC and Mathew Roper of 5 Stone Buildings, instructed by Amanda Noyce of Royds Withy King, acted on behalf of Gordon Willey in these civil proceedings.

Michael O’Sullivan also represented Mr Willey’s property and affairs deputy in a separate application to the Court of Protection, in which he succeeded in obtaining an order for Mr Willey’s removal from Barton Park.

Reporting of the criminal proceedings and sentencing in this case has put financial abuse of the elderly into the headlines. Members of 5 Stone Buildings are frequently instructed to act in Court of Protection and civil asset recovery cases arising from financial abuse of elderly or mentally incapacitated individuals, and are contributing to a seminar organised by Wedlake Bell LLP on financial abuse of the elderly on Tuesday 17 July.