A heartless carer who stole thousands of pounds and military medals from a war veteran has been jailed for four and a half years.
Colin Blake, 60, befriended widower Frank Willett before taking him to the solicitors and gaining full control of his finances.
In 2004, after Mr Willetts was moved to a care home , Blake sold the ex-serviceman’s North Yorkshire home for £145,000 – disposing of or selling off his war medals, photos and late wife’s wedding ring .
Leeds Crown Court heard £15,000 was placed into the account of Blake’s building firm, with £70,000 later invested in land in France.
Blake, of Parthenay, France, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft.
The court heard in 2000, Blake moved in next door to the 78-year-old ex-serviceman, with Mr Willett relying on Blake and his wife Sally to help with doctors’ visits and shopping.
Prosecutor Jo Shepherd told the court Mr Willett was “confused and struggling to cope” and his immediate family was initially happy with the arrangement as they lived 330 miles away.
After two years of being neighbours, Blake became Mr Willett’s main carer and took him to solicitors for a will to be drawn up making him “principal beneficiary”, the court heard.
The prosecution said “Mr Blake had custody of Mr Willett’s cheque book” and a lasting power of attorney was drawn up, giving him full control of Mr Willett’s financial affairs.
In an impact statement, Mr Willett’s daughter Leslie said Blake “cynically preyed on his confusion and vulnerability” before Mr Willett’s death in 2009.
Mr Willett, who served in Normandy during World War II, had the last six years of his life “hijacked”, the court heard.
Nick Johnson QC, mitigating, accepted the case showed a “high breach of trust”, but his client had initially provided daily care for Mr Willett and became “like a son” to him.
Judge James Spencer QC, sentencing Blake, said: “I’m quite sure that you took advantage of his dependence as he deteriorated and you abused that level of trust.
“You helped yourself to his money to prop up your business, then when the house was sold you helped yourself to a considerable portion of the sale.”
A proceeds of crime hearing was now due to take place, the court heard.