Perfect couple face losing everything after spending pensioner's savings on lavish home improvements (From The Northern Echo)
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Perfect couple face losing everything after spending pensioner's savings on lavish home improvements
A couple face losing all they have worked for after being jailed for stealing a pensioner's life savings. Neil Hunter was in court as they were branded "selfish, materialistic and utterly remorseless" and told they face "biblical punishment".
TO many people, they seemed like the perfect couple living the perfect life.
Lesley and Andrew Reeve had a lovely house in a nice neighbourhood, two devoted, grown-up sons, lots of friends and jobs they enjoyed.
They spent a lot of their time looking after her godmother, running errands, helping her with her home and visiting after she went into care.
Yet there were crippling debts and there was growing desperation as the couple faced the prospect of losing their home after missing a mortgage payment.
The only way out - the Reeves saw - was to "bleed dry" the 91-year-old after gaining control of her finances when she was taken into care.
When the money was all spent, they stopped visiting the pensioner, and claimed it was because of a fall-out with staff at the home.
Their world came crashing down when they were found guilty last month of stealing her life savings and blowing the lot in just two years "on compelling evidence", according to the judge.
The money the spinster had saved throughout her frugal life was gone in a flash on lavish home improvements, a car and paying off the debts.
Now, everything the Reeves have got will go.
Today (Friday, September 20), the confidence the couple showed during their two-week trial was replaced by shameful tears and the humbling of prison.
Now the luxury of their four-bed home will be replaced with jail cells in Holme House, Stockton, for him and Low Newton, Durham, for her.
That £220,000 property might not be there for them when they come out of custody as police look to claw back the cash they stole under Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) legislation.
The couple will be back before a judge next year when details of their finances will be examined and pay-back figures set.
Defence barrister Nigel Soppitt told the court: "The Crown's case was that they systematically stripped her assets. The state will now do that with the PoCA, and will take every penny from them.
"They will be in a position where their assets will be stripped completely. It is almost punishment on a biblical scale - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It is going to happen to them what they did to somebody else."
Their sons were in court with their partners yesterday and wept as their parents left the dock of Court 2 via the back door with their large holdalls.
On day one of the trial, the Reeves turned up in smart suits and sporting sunglasses and were equally well turned-out throughout.
Yesterday, he arrived in 'prison' gear - jeans, a striped rugby shirt and a hoody - to face the inevitable.
She - hidden by an umbrella and guarded by her family to the extent of her husband pushing his hand in the face of a cameraman - was again in her grey suit.
Her lawyer argued for a suspended prison sentence to show "a great deal of mercy to the family" but the judge rejected the plea as "utterly fanciful".
One source close to the case described the couple as "arrogant and aloof" and said they will never accept they are guilty.
The judge said: "You have shown thought these proceedings not one ounce of remorse, not one ounce of regret. In the entire proceedings, I have seen nothing, not even a flicker of regret for what you have done. Indeed, quite the reverse.
"The greater punishment for you, perhaps, is for all your lives you have been hard-working, for all your lives you have held yourselves out as being decent, upright members of society . . . and now you will never be able to hold yourselves up in the community as being such people.
"You, no doubt, feel that you have done well, you have been hard-working, but you are, I am satisfied, both of you, utterly materialistic."
Their victim - a retired window-dresser suffering from dementia - thankfully has no idea of how she has been betrayed.
In the wake of their convictions, Reeve changed the profile picture on his Facebook page to show the couple and their boys.
The holiday snap from 2004 prompted comments such as "lovely picture, lovely family xxx" and "bless you all" from friends.
Those friends might be all they have left when they emerge from jail.