Jail for care home owner who fleeced pensioners out of millions
A "morally bankrupt" care home owner who took millions of pounds from wealthy pensioners has been jailed for 21 years.
David Barton, 64, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday for what Judge Steven Everett described as the "most brazen" case of fraud he had ever seen.
He was found guilty of four counts of conspiracy to defraud, one count of fraud, three counts of theft, false accounting and transferring criminal property after a trial which lasted a year.
Care home manager Rosemary Booth, 69, was jailed for six years for three counts of conspiracy to defraud for her part in his scheme.
The court, with a public gallery full of friends and family of victims and defendants, heard between 1997 and 2013 Barton had taken more than Â£4 million dishonestly from his victims, who were wealthy, elderly residents at the Barton Park Nursing Home in Southport, and had tried to claim a further Â£10 million.
Judge Steven Everett said: "I am struggling to remember anyone as dishonest as him, as morally bankrupt as him."
Sentencing Barton, he said: "You are a despicably greedy man, a hypocrite who claimed you were caring for the residents.
"I'm quite sure the person you cared for the most is no one but yourself, not even your family, with your insatiable appetite for fancy cars and building your property empire."
Benjamin Myers QC, prosecuting, told the two-day sentencing hearing Barton would groom "wealthy, vulnerable and childless" residents before draining their bank accounts and becoming a beneficiary in their wills.
Among his victims was Patricia Anderson Scott, the widow of former Everton FC chairman Bill Scott, who had Â£1.4 million taken from her.
The court heard he targeted multi-millionaires Katie and Gordon Willey and destroyed the relationships between them and family and friends - hiring a life coach and psychic consultants to make spells to "banish" their family.
Barton persuaded them to give him a large classic car collection belonging to Mr Willey, who had Alzheimer's disease, and attempted to draw Mrs Willey into a scheme where all of her wealth would pass to him and his business.
After Mrs Willey died he put in a fraudulent claim for Â£10 million he said was owed to him.
When police began to investigate that claim Barton sold a number of his luxury cars, including four Ferraris and two Rolls Royces and later transferred money from the sales into his son's bank accounts.
Paul Bogan QC, defending Barton, said he had "enhanced the lives" of many of the care home residents "in their final years".
He said: "It is only right that the court recognises the abuse did not extend, as it does in some cases, to physical abuse, to neglect, but on the contrary, in relation to those and, we say, hundreds of others in that period of time, they enjoyed their life at Barton Park."
Geoffrey Payne, defending Booth, who was in tears in the dock throughout the hearing, said she had been exploited" by Barton.
He said: "Up to that point Rosemary Booth was undoubtedly a woman of impeccable, positive character who touched and affected many people's lives in a positive way."
Detective Inspector Jon Smith, who led the investigation, welcomed the sentence.
He said: "For 16 years, they preyed upon wealthy elderly people in Southport, bleeding them of their hard-earned savings and enjoying a lavish lifestyle of fast cars, holidays and multiple properties as a result."
Bookkeeper Kiria Hughes, 42, will be sentenced on Friday afternoon after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and false accounting.