Barnham couple sentenced for neglect and fraud


A BARNHAM couple have been sentenced for systematically neglecting an elderly relative in their care.

Paul Schmidt, 52, a motor trade mechanic, and his partner Amanda Whelan, 38, both of Hedge End appeared in custody at Hove Crown Court on Monday, having been convicted in February after a two-week trial at the same court.

Schmidt was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for wilful neglect, contrary to the Mental Capacity Act.

He was also handed eight months’ for obtaining approximately £6,700 from fraud by false representation.

The sentences will run consecutively.

Whelan was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for wilful neglect.

She was also ordered to do 160 hours unpaid work within 12 months.

Schmidt’s mother, now aged 87, came to live with them in 2010, but subsequently police and social services began to receive reports that she was not being properly cared for.

Friends and family became frustrated and called the police.

Eventually, in August 2011, social services and the local GP got into the property to see her.

She was extremely thin, her toe nails were severely overgrown, she was unkempt and living in dirty conditions.

Social services removed her for her own welfare and the by now frail woman, weighing less than six stone, was taken into care where she now lives in a safe environment and a much improved condition.

Detective constable Emma Fields said: “Further evidence was obtained from the victim’s bank account. Several cheques and card transactions were made on the account which were not for her.

“Paul Schmidt admitted to writing and signing the cheques he said because his mother told him to and he said she gave him permission.

“However the court found that this activity was fraudulent and for his benefit.

“This was a blatant case of heartless exploitation and neglect of a very vulnerable person, who deserved love and care but received just the opposite.

“We hope this outcome will send a warning message to anyone thinking they can take advantage of a elderly vulnerable person.

“Police and caring agencies will respond and take every possible step to bring them to justice.”