Elderly woman was left weighing six stone after “heartless exploitation and neglect”

Paul Schmidt, 52, sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

Paul Schmidt, 52, sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

First published in News
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An elderly woman was subject to “heartless exploitation and neglect” and was left weighing less than six stone while in the care of her son and his girlfriend.

The couple, Paul Schmidt, 52, and Amanda Whelan, 38, neglected the 87-year-old woman while she lived with them until August 2011.

Schmidt was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment for wilful neglect, contrary to the Mental Capacity Act, and eight months' for obtaining approximately £6700 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.

Both appeared in custody at Hove Crown Court on today, having been convicted in February after a two-week trial at the same court.

Social services gained access to the property in Barnham and found her in a frail state, with her toenails overgrown and living in dirty conditions.

Social Services removed her for her own welfare and 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."

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