A carer has gone on trial accused of embezzling nearly £50,000 from the bank account of an 83-year-old woman with dementia.
Kathleen MacKay is alleged to have taken the money over a two-year period from 2018.
Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard how Allan Hildreth discovered mysterious cash withdrawals from his elderly mother’s account.
He said Alison Hildreth, a retired school teacher, had “lived within her means” and was independent prior to a fall, despite a diagnosis of vascular dementia.
But when he gained power of attorney and gained access to her bank statements he discovered multiple cash withdrawals of up to £500 a time.
Some of the transactions took place on consecutive days, he told the court, but there was no evidence of her spending lavishly or hoarding the cash.
Cash withdrawn miles from home
Mr Hildreth said: “She was able to manage her own finances and had her own bank account and bank card.
“Because other bills were all standing orders she didn’t have to do anything to do with financial matters.”
He said: “My mother allowed her (MacKay) to take out money for her for her wages, so she had access to the account.”
He noted that some transactions had taken place at Hospital Hill in Dunfermline, more than two miles from his mother’s former address.
He said there was another cashpoint less than 200 metres from her home.
The 52-year-old said Mrs Hildreth’s bills totalled just over £500 per month and after paying carers fees of £260 per week, along with other small expenses, she should have had several hundred pounds left over each month.
Account dropped from £30k to £3k
“There should have been a surplus each month, but instead it was diminishing – with three or four thousand withdrawn a month,” he said.
“I was shocked because from May 2019 there was over £30,000 and by 2020 there was only £3,000.”
Mr Hildreth said: “I saw there was lots of withdrawals of £500, which set alarm bells ringing. There was some marked as ‘London’ but I knew my mother hadn’t been to London.”
He said it later transpired that these withdrawals had taken place at a cinema chain with a head office in the city.
Mr Hildreth added that his mother, who now lives in a care home, “wasn’t a spendthrift” but would buy quality items when they were needed.
Denied mother spent the money herself
After investigating the transactions with his mother’s bank, Mr Hildreth said he alerted the police.
He denied a suggestion from defence agent Russel McPhate that his mother had been spending more freely that he was aware of and had withdrawn the money herself.
“I wouldn’t say she was capable of that and if she did there was no evidence of her spending it.
He told the court he spoke with her on the phone every day from his home in East Lothian and visited regularly at weekends.
“If she had been out for lunch in Belgravia I would have known,” he said.
Asked if his mother would have told him if she had dined at Khushi’s in Dunfermline, Mr Hildreth said she would have.
“My mother was a very vulnerable person for the two years before she went into care,” he said. “She didn’t have much of a life.
“It was hard enough to live her lifestyle, let alone an alternative lifestyle – I find that impossible.”
However he conceded that the statements gave no indication of who had withdrawn each sum.
MacKay, 68, of David Street, Dunfermline, denies embezzling £48,094.85 from Mrs Hildreth at several addresses in in the town between May 1, 2018 and May 31, 2020.
The trial, before Sheriff Susan Duff, continues.