Court hears that elderly Cranham woman was ‘left in squalor for three years’

'I doubt very much well see you back in court in the future' (Picture: John Stillwell/PA)

'I doubt very much well see you back in court in the future' (Picture: John Stillwell/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A 96-year-old woman was left in extreme poverty, without hot water, heating or a working toilet, while her son siphoned off her pension, a court heard on Monday.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that 75-year-old Brian Matthews’ mother, Winifred, lived in squalid conditions for three years before social services were alerted.

Prosecutor Simon Sandford said the floors of her Cranham home were coated in urine and excrement.

Mr Matthews, of Old Yarmouth Road, Broome, Suffolk, denies one charge of fraud and one charge of neglecting a person who lacks capacity. Both offences span a period from January 2010 to July 2013.

The authorities were alerted after Mrs Matthews’ niece, Rosalind Reynolds, visited the property with her husband early in 2012.

Mr Sandford said: “They found a terrible smell coming from the house.

“There was no gas on so the cooker in the kitchen was unusable and there was no hot water.”

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Mrs Matthews, now 98, was entitled to a pension from Barking and Dagenham Council as well as government and widow’s pensions. Her son is accused of diverting £18,000 of her money to his bank account.

Mr Matthews told social services he organised for meals to be delivered and visited his mother every three weeks, but she refused professional care.

But in his evidence, Mike Snape, Mrs Matthews’ social worker from Havering Council, said he was so concerned about Mr Matthews’ unwillingness to spend money that he had his mother, who had been diagnosed with dementia, placed in a home without his knowledge.

He said: Mr Snape said: “We were very afraid that Brian would try and scupper the move.”

Mr Snape acknowledged that Mrs Matthews had been reluctant to leave her home.

Mr Matthews’ power of attorney was revoked in April 2013 by the Court of Protection.

The trial continues.