‘I can’t afford to live – I can’t afford to die’

Ian Stanworth
Ian Stanworth
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An 86-year-old woman fleeced out of her life savings by her thieving nephew today told how she had been left with just £26 to her name.

Vera Banks placed her finances in the hands of nephew Ian Stanworth who “knowingly and deliberately” plundered more than £370,000 from her accounts.

I never got to see any bank statements

Stanworth, of Waterdale, Bispham, has been jailed for four years after pleading guilty to fraud.

A court heard he spent most of her money on fruit machines in Blackpool to feed his gambling habit.

Mrs Banks told police who were called in to investigate that she “can’t afford to live, can’t afford to die” in reference to her fears she had no money left to pay for her own funeral.

Speaking after Stanworth was jailed, Mrs Banks said she was just left with only £26.40.

She told The Gazette: “I had absolutely no idea.

“Now when I come to think of it I never got to see any bank statements.

“He was holding them back. If I’d have seen them I’d have known.

“The whole family has been brought up to save and me and my husband Stanley saved all our lives. I was a shop assistant.

“It wasn’t a big wage but I always put some aside and so did my husband, Stanley, who worked on the railways.

“When you give power of attorney to somebody you don’t think of these kind of things. You would only give it to somebody you trusted.

“Now I’m just carrying on.

“I can’t do anything to help anybody now. That’s it. I just have to take it as it comes.”

Had it not been for the charity of the care home owner who has reduced her fees, Mrs Banks would be homeless after cheques to cover her care costs were returned unpaid.

Preston Crown Court heard Stanworth was granted power of attorney in 2007 when Mrs Banks – then in her late 70s – decided to move into the Golden Years Care Home in Shaftesbury Avenue, North Shore.

But he then fleeced her out of her life savings. His ruse was only uncovered when cheques she had written for care home fees were returned by the bank due to insufficient funds.

Nicholas Courtney, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said: “She has gone from someone with assets and savings to someone who has to rely on charity to stay in her home.”

Judith McCullough, defending, said: “He intended to repay it but when you add into the mix his long standing gambling compulsion it soon spiralled out of control.”