April 25, 2024

Mother stole money from her autistic son in Bournemouth

Cheryl Lynes, 47, took the money that had been set aside for her son’s therapeutic activities, holidays, and life enrichment activities.

Lynes took charge of her son’s finances when he first moved into assisted living in Bournemouth at the age of 18.

He has severe communication difficulties, suffers with autism, and lacks capacity to manage his own money, prosecutor Rose Burns told the court.

Lynes withdrew money from her son’s account to “spend on various things”, and across 2017 to 2020, spent between £14,000 and £15,000.

The funds had been saved up by a foster carer who looked after Lynes’ son before he went into assisted living. 

A social worker became aware of the money Lynes was spending, and contacted the police. 

The defendant appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, February 16, having admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position.

The court heard how Lynes was not in a position to pay the £15,000 back, and was “quite considerably in debt”.

Mitigating, Christopher Pix said this was “highly unsophisticated fraud”, noting his client had “limited intelligence”.

Bournemouth Echo: Cheryl Lynes leaving courtCheryl Lynes leaving court (Image: NQ)

He added: “She’s of good character and she’s not, for example, a professional fraudster.

“This is a lady who is incredibly remorseful and accepts responsibility.”

Mr Pix also noted Lynes experienced an “incredibly sad childhood” in foster care, and “has not had an easy life” since.

Addressing the defendant, Judge Robert Pawson said: “Your son is extremely vulnerable, and you took advantage of that over the course of about two or three years.

“You, in effect, stole £15,000 from him. You took £15,000, or thereabouts, of his money and spent it on who knows, shopping?

“I noticed one of the things you spent money on was taxis – a total waste of money.

“I’m afraid there is only word for what you did, and it’s contemptable. Most members of the public would go further to say its despicable.

“I have no doubt that you targeted your son because of his vulnerability.

“It’s almost unbelievable that any parent in your circumstances would do that.”

Lynes, of Courtlands Road in Portland, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.

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