An elderly couple’s battle to live in a caravan in their son’s back garden has been lost because a letter from their GP about their illnesses was a forgery.
A sharp-eyed planning officer noticed vital differences between the letter said to have come from a Dr John Calvert and a previous letter from the GP. There was a slight change in the type face and the doctor’s signature was also slightly different.
Clarence Whilton, 82, and his 76-year –old wife June had been living in the caravan at the rear of their son 43-year-old Paul Whilton’s home in Lyndhurst Avenue,Blackpool.
They had a mains water supply and the caravan was connected to the sewerage system.
But neighbours bombarded Blackpool Council with complaints because the caravan was being lived in permanently by the pensioners and that the caravan was sticking out into a public rear alleyway.
Computer company worker Paul Whilton launched a counter offensive claiming his parents were suffering too many ailments to move away from his care.
But when the council asked for medical evidence to back up his claim, Whilton had a problem.
A first letter from their GP said they did have some medical issues but were nothing like as serious as he had maintained in letters and e mails to the council.
So a fraudulent letter using photocopied headed note paper from Dr Calvert’s Waterloo Medical Centre was sent to the planner saying that the couple suffered from dementia and mobility problems.
Blackpool Magistrates heard from council prosecutor Lynda Bennett that an investigation began into the source of the letter when it appeared to have been” doctored”.
“It was submitted with other documents by Mr Whilton on behalf of his parents to procure established used of the caravan under the Town and Country Planning Act.”
“However it was a doctored letter falsely purporting to have come from the couple’s doctor. It was a deliberate fraud and the doctor himself and his practice manager confirmed no such letter had been written.”
The prosecutor said that when a planning enforcement officers visited Mr and Mrs Whilton he was told by the couple that they only went into their son’s house to cook the odd meal and spent the rest of the time in the caravan.
She added: “The doctor’s first letter in support of them did not mention anything about the lady’s dementia but the second made a false and misleading statement that she was suffering from that problem.”
“Mr Whilton also said he was his parents’ full time carer but he was at work all day.”
The court heard how the couple were no longer living in the caravan and and now had a full time carer in the Lancashire village of Preesall.
The caravan is to be moved by their son.
His lawyer Gerry Coyle said:”Mr Whilton was struggling to cope with elderly parents. It seemed sensible for them to move into the caravan at his home.”
“However the council were forced into investigating because of the incessant barrage of complaints from neighbours.”
“He fully accepts the false letter was submitted to the council to help his claim that they should be allowed to stay.
“He says the letter was handed to him by one of his parents.”
“He says he does not know who cobbled it together.”
Whilton was ordered topay £510 in fines and costs.