A “gardener” formerly from Morecambe who manipulated himself into the life of a 91-year-old widower and defrauded him of nearly £300,000 was jailed for three years - and lambasted by a judge for “despicable” conduct.
Karl Alexander, 49, of Deerwood Vale, Hyde, Cheshire, pleaded guilty at Caernarfon crown court to fraud, his victim being Dennis Jezzard, a former top executive with the Halifax bank in Wales.
Judge Niclas Parry told Alexander : “You have admitted conduct that can only be described as despicable doing what would sicken any right minded person.
“Over a period of 16 months you took advantage of a 91-year-old man, a gentleman who trusted you as a friend and you breached that trust by defrauding him of nearly £300,000.”
The judge said it was sad that being taken advantage of in that way was the last experience “of a long life, well lived,” and Alexander had seen him as a trusting, vulnerable man.
“You witnessed your father had done exactly the same thing and you weaselled yourself into his life, telling one lie after the next. You conned him.”
Judge Parry said Alexander had made an application for a carer’s allowance and had lied to do so, and had a made claims that the victim was his father and grandfather. He also made lying claims that his wife had been paid £300,000 medical compensation.
“You were attempting to manipulate both him and those trying to help him,” and had removed documents from his home.
The sentence of three years reflected that the missing money was now being repaid to the estate as compensation.
John Philpotts, prosecuting, said Mr Jezzard lived to a ripe old age, dying in February 2013 when 91. His wife, a retired teacher, had died in 2004 and afterwards Mr Jezzard continued to live in Bryn Avenue, Old Colwyn. He’d obtained the services apparently through Yellow Pages of a landscape gardener, Alexander’s father of Kinmel Bay, who had since died.
Mr Philpotts said Mr Jezzard had the good fortune to have “some very good neighbours,” one of them Gareth Jones, a former head of North Wales CID. Mr Jones became particularly concerned because the gardener, named Barry, was seen to work on the roof.
There was a strong suspicion that Mr Jezzard’s car had been sold at an under-valued price.
Alexander began to travel from his home at Morecambe and to work his way into the old man’s confidence. Savings certificates were transferred and £91,000 was “invested” in Morecambe Motor Homes and following the failure of that business he set up a house rental business, Alexander Rentals.
Mr Philpotts said Mr Jones the neighbour had been able to contact Mr Peter Wilks, the victim’s nephew and only relative, and social services and then the police became involved. In his bid to manipulate Mr Jezzard’s life the defendant had even sought power of attorney, and Mr Wilks discovered that documents had been taken from his uncle’s safe.
The defendant’s former wife had handed to police a number of briefcases she had been told to remove from the defendant’s address which included documents such as a copy of his will and birth and marriage certificates. Mr Philpotts said the fraud amounted to £291,511 of which £227,575 was now available to pay back. Mr Jezzard had at first described Alexander as his friend. Alexander had even tried to sell Mr Jezzard’s home, but had been thwarted by an honest estate agent. When the old man was in a care home Alexander had tried to move him to one at Morecambe.
Barrister Nicola Gatto, defending, said Alexander had accepted his wrongdoing and had cooperated with a financial investigation. She said there had been mental health issues and at one stage Alexander had been incoherent and rambling when he spoke to lawyers. Later however he became calmer and lucid.
Alexander was a happily married family man with two children and a stepdaughter “and there is very clear remorse.” When police and social services became involved Mr Jezzard had effectively asked them to leave his property and said “ it’s my money and I can do what I want with it.”
Mr Jezzard had been extremely lucid, was interested in making investments and enjoyed the company of the defendant, who came on the scene in 2009. Alexander had described to police being very close friends, enjoying each other’s company, and that he had done all sorts of things for Mr Jezzard. “He lost his own father in 2010 and in a way Mr Jezzard became a father figure to him,” said Miss Gatto. “There is very clear remorse.” Alexander had done his best to pay back the money and was now living in a small council flat and when released from jail would have to start from scratch.
Mr Wilks, 67, Mr Jezzard’s sole relative, sat in the public seats having travelled from his home at Harrow. Semi retired Mr Wilkes said :” This case has been going on for a long time and at last we’ve got closure. My uncle was as honest as the day is long and the worst thing for me was seeing his bank statements and that the man he regarded as a friend had defrauded him of large amounts of money.”