Ex-officers count cost in `human terms` of draining elderly mother`s bank account
A former police officer who helped himself to £60,000 from his elderly mother`s bank account was spared a prison sentence as it would have robbed her of any “realistic prospect of compensation”.
A former police officer who helped himself to £60,000 from his elderly mother`s bank account was spared a prison sentence as it would have robbed her of any “realistic prospect of compensation”. Instead, Sheriff William Gilchrist ordered ex-Central Scotland Police Sergeant Andrew Rough and his wife Jean, also a retired police constable, to pay back £24,000 to the 86-year-old as well as banning them from any contact with her for three years. The couple drained the bank accounts of Gladys Rough over a period of almost five years, when she was aged 80 to 84. They spent her money on the mortgage of an up-market new home, loading up with hunting, shooting and fishing supplies, and getting a brand new game gun. The pair also spent her cash on deposits on a summer house for their back garden and laser eye surgery for former firearms officer Rough, who used to guard ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher`s Defence Secretary, the late Lord George Younger. The Roughs spent up to £700 a month buying trolley-loads of groceries in what the prosecution described as their version of Supermarket Sweep. Stirling Sheriff Court heard they used the elderly lady like a cash machine. The couple were unanimously found guilty by a jury of embezzlement, which they had denied, after a ten-day trial in August. They had been warned they faced jail. On Thursday (October 19) Sheriff Gilchrist sentenced them to 300 hours of unpaid work and ordered them to pay Gladys compensation, under a three-year order. He told the Roughs that they had embezzled a substantial sum of money over a lengthy period of time but after reading background reports he labelled them naive and rash and said he thought Gladys would have given them some of the money they stole voluntarily, if only theyd asked. He said: In such cases its inevitable that the court will start from the premise of a custodial sentence. However, I do not intend to send you to prison. A prison sentence effectively excludes any realistic prospect of compensation, and I think thats an important feature of what must happen.” Sheriff Gilchrist said the psychological impact on Mrs Rough of the couples cavalier behaviour had been considerable as had the impact on her finances. But he said: Im conscious that she did state that she did not want to see you go to prison. That is another factor I have taken into account. He said he had also considered their ages, health, and lack of analogous previous convictions. Earlier, defence advocate Lewis Kennedy said Rough had expressed regret and shame, adding: Prison might be a difficult experience for a former police officer. The theft began after Gladys Roughs husband, Andrew senior, was taken to hospital with a stroke and she handed her son and daughter-in-law her bank cards to do her £30 weekly shop and to collect money to pay her gardener and cleaner. She also gave them power of attorney and handed over her bank statements to them unopened. The court was told there was no dispute the pair had then made repeated withdrawals and purchases, taking up to £12,000 a year, and finally running one account down to just 37p causing a direct debit to bounce and Gladys Roughs phone to be cut off. Gladys Rough, who endured four-and-a-half days of lawyers questions over a video link during the trial, said she had told them they could also use her cards for themselves if they were stuck. But ex-Sgt Rough, who shot for Scotland and the British Police team and served his force for 27 years until retiring in 2002, insisted there were no riders, no restrictions, no limits. He claimed he and his wife were free to use his mothers money however they wished. Sheriff Gilchrist told jurors an analogy might be someone who told a babysitter to help themselves to food and drink, but then found they had taken the entire contents of the wine cellar. As Gladys Roughs money was spent, the couple enjoyed three holidays a year and he went off on shooting weekends costing more than £500 a