A retired independent financial adviser who stole around £50,000 from an elderly, disabled Oldland Common widow has been jailed today, with police calling the crime “abhorrent”.
Michael Price, 73, of Morgan Way, Peasedown St John, was jailed for three years at Bristol Crown Court after being convicted of fraud by abuse of position.
He stole money the money from the late Eileen Chiswell between 2013 and 2016.
The 88-year-old double amputee, from St Helen’s Drive, passed away prior to the investigation reaching court. She had placed her confidence in the former financial adviser, trusting him with her bank cards on the pretext that he was helping and advising her, but Price exploited her lack of mobility.
Achieving a successful conviction was complicated by her death prior to the Crown Prosecution Service making a charging decision. Despite the defence suggesting that the case should not be brought, Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s Complex Crime Unit pressed ahead to take the matter to trial and achieve a successful conviction.
Price began working as financial adviser to Eileen Chiswell in 2013, dealing with her tax returns and managing her investments. When she went into hospital in 2015 she gave the financial adviser a debit card to withdraw money she needed. He did not return the card.
She became suspicious when she noticed that her bank balance was lower than she had expected, discovering a large number of cash withdrawals and transactions had been made without her knowledge and consent.
The police were notified and started an investigation, which led to the arrest of Michael Price and ultimately a first appearance at court in 2016.
Today he has been jailed and a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Act will take place later this year at Bristol Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.
DS Marc Milliner, from the Complex Crime Unit, said: “The significant custodial sentence handed to a man in his 70s of previous good character reflects what a dim view the courts take on professionals who abuse their positions to exploit the vulnerable.
“This case was particularly abhorrent as Price took advantage of the victim’s circumstances to feed his own greed. The victim was widowed, elderly and immobile through her disability. She trusted her financial adviser to act in her best interests but he betrayed that trust and confidence.
“Hopefully a case such as this demonstrates that even when a victim has died prior to the suspect being charged, the police will do everything in their power to bring to justice those who target vulnerable victims.”