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Dementia sufferer was 'vulnerable to exploitation'
A DEMENTIA sufferer who is said to have had her life savings stolen by her god-daughter and husband was "vulnerable to exploitation", a doctor has said.
The 91-year-old lacked the mental capacity to make financial decisions for herself after her health started to deteriorate in 2009, a court heard yesterday.
Details of a series of assessments by doctors were revealed to a jury at Teesside Crown Court where Lesley, 56, and Andrew Reeve, 55, are on trial for theft.
The couple are accused of pilfering the bank and savings accounts of Mrs Reeve's elderly godmother and spending more than £100,000 in just two years.
A doctor who twice examined her said she lacked the mental capacity to make financial decisions for herself after he health started to deteriorate in 2009.
Details of assessments by GPs were revealed to the jury, and in one, Dr Daniel Donovan reported: "Her severe dementia made her vulnerable to exploitation.
"She had an open and trusting nature which, coupled with her cognitive deficits, could lead to her making an error in her financial dealings and result in loss."
Physiotherapist Michael Thornton visited the pensioner at her home before she was taken into care, and told of his worries about her ability to cope.
Mental health nurse Grace Wood described the patient as "agitated and confused" by her memory loss, and said she performed poorly in a series of tests.
After being taken into care, the woman's ability to remember things "deteriorated steadily", another doctor, Alison Eaton, explained in a statement.
When she was in the home, she asked the Reeves to take in photographs to personalise her sparse room, and some earrings, said manager Julie Armstrong.
Mrs Armstrong said neither request was fulfilled, and she went shopping herself to buy the pensioner a pair of gold hoops and a wooden jewellery box.
The Reeves, of Chichester Close, Hartlepool, deny raiding the pensioner's bank accounts to fund home improvements, buy a car and clear credit card debts.
They claim their elderly friend told them she wanted to see them benefit from her savings and the conversion of their home was to create a granny flat for her.
The jury has been told that the work on the garage actually involved the creation of a gym and a wet room - with no facilities for an ailing OAP like the alleged victim.
Building inspector Gary Hutchinson said in a statement read to the court: "There is absolutely no record of this application being completed to accommodate another bedroom."
This afternoon, the jury of seven women and five men are expected to hear evidence from a builder and an electrician who carried out work on the £220,000 house.