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Ex-policeman guilty over stealing house and £200,000 from disabled cousin

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A former police officer has been found guilty of stealing a house and £200,000 from his disabled cousin.

John Gimbert, 64, was unanimously convicted of four counts of theft and will face a retrial along with his son David – a serving sergeant with Staffordshire Police – on a charge of conspiracy to defraud after a jury failed to reach verdicts on that count.

David, 37, who is based at force HQ in Stafford, will also face a retrial over a count of handling criminal property after it is alleged he bought the stolen home for just £1.

John, a former constable in Staffordshire, abused his position as power of attorney over the affairs of his cousin Janette Trim who has severe learning difficulties, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

As well as selling his cousin's home for a fraction of its value to his eldest son, he spent £30,000 on new cars and put up large mortgage deposits for his three children from her funds.

Altogether he asset stripped Miss Trim of around £200,000 from the estate left to her by her father.

The six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court concluded yesterday after Judge Murray Creed discharged the jury after 20 hours of deliberation.

Earlier they had cleared John's youngest son, William, 33, and his solicitor Raymond Basnett, 63, both of Stoke-on-Trent, of any role in the alleged conspiracy as well as counts of acquiring criminal property for William, and theft for Basnett. All men denied all the charges.

Prosecutor Mr Malcolm Morse said Miss Trim's learning difficulties meant she had to be treated 'like a child'.

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She also had no appreciation for money even though, like her cousin John, is 64-years-old, he said.

The court heard after her father Dennis died in 2002, she inherited his estate worth £220,000 with John Gimbert as executor of the will.

In May 2003 Miss Trim signed papers to allow John Gimbert to become power of attorney over her affairs.

Mr Morse said Miss Trim did not have the mental 'capacity' to sign the documents obtained by John Gimbert.

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Her father's bungalow in Malcolm Close, Stoke-on-Trent, valued at around £80,000, was then sold to David in the following September, the court was told.

"Four months and a week after signing power of attorney, Janette was disposing of the house to John's son for £1," said Mr Morse.

"The home, even valued at £50,000, was one quarter of her total inheritance.

"It may occur to you that when her father died, he was doing his level best to make sure Janette was being protected and he would leave her with as much as he could.

Even if the property wasn't in its peak condition it would be worth more than £1. This came about because John Gimbert had been left, in reality, in complete control of what Janette did with her inheritance."

He told the jury of seven men and five women that John Gimbert raided Ms Trim's inheritance and gave his children, sons David and William and daughter Jayne Page, 'large' deposits for mortgages.

The court was also told that he bought three new Chrysler cars worth a total of more than £30,000 with money taken from her accounts – and that he and his wife would use a 'Motability' car leased using her benefit money for their own purposes.

The ruse was exposed after staff at Staffordshire County Council became suspicious about John's spending for his cousin such as for a new computer she would not have been able to use.

John, of Westwood Park Avenue, Leek, and David, whose address cannot be revealed for legal reasons, will be retried in September.

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