Cheating Sheffield son stole £13,000 from frail mum

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A deceitful Sheffield son who stole more than £13,000 from his frail mother by forging cheques has been jailed for 20 months.

When tracing paper covered in signatures was found at Paul Severn’s address, he said he had been practising his writing because a dog bite had left him with an arm injury.

But Sheffield Crown Court heard the 49-year-old had in fact been tracing his 78-year-old mother’s signature onto cheques so he could fund a £200-a-day crack cocaine habit with her savings.

Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said his mother, Pauline, had been receiving care from Sheffield Council carers for four or five years when Severn moved into her house.

She said: “He was disruptive of his mother’s care plan and was insistent he wanted to provide care to his mother.

“There was no evidence of him providing his mother’s care. He did make a claim for full carer’s allowance, which was granted to him.”

In February 2014, Mrs Severn was diagnosed with dementia and now resides in a care home.

Ms Gallagher said: “The defendant has never visited his mother while he has been in the care home.”

The court heard that towards the end of last year, Severn told a drug support worker he was spending £200 a day on crack cocaine and was funding it by obtaining money from his mother’s bank account.

“He said that he had been using his mother’s cheque book,” Ms Gallagher said.

“He described using tracing paper to trace her signature in pencil and then going over it with a ball point pen.”

Severn, of Tansley Street, Wincobank, was arrested and his home was searched.

“Officers came across, in the living room, pieces of tracing paper which bore several signatures of ‘P Severn’,” said Ms Gallagher.

“He said he was practising his signature because he had injured his arm after being bitten by a dog.”

The court heard Severn had written four cheques to himself with a combined value of £13,200.

Gurdial Singh, defending, said: “When he isn’t on the drugs he has stayed crime-free. He has been seeing Addaction and he has been making progress with them in relation to his addiction.

“It is particularly unpleasant that he has stolen from his mother and he will feel that shame.”

Severn pleaded guilty to fraud between August and October 2014 and was sentenced to 20 months in jail.