Friend of council leader jailed for fleecing aunt

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A MARRIED couple who stole more than £60,000 from an elderly relative were handed prison sentences on Monday.

Sylvia Anita Cooper, 69, and her husband, John Benjamin Cooper, 74, both of Ludgershall Road, Brill stole the money for luxury items including a holiday to China, home improvements for their bed and breakfast business and a Steiff bear.

The pair obtained the money over two and a half years while acting as power of attorney for Mrs Cooper’s aunt, Hilda Holland. They were found out when another family member became suspicious and checked the accounts.

Mr Cooper is a close friend of Aylesbury Vale District Council leader, John Cartwright, who provided a glowing character reference for him during their trial last year.

Judge Christopher Tyrer sentenced the pair at Aylesbury Crown Court sitting at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Sylvia Cooper, who was found guilty of 12 counts of abusing her position of trust as an attorney at a hearing in November, was given eight months in prison for each of the offences, to run concurrently.

John Cooper received five months for each of two counts of dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit, to run concurrently.

Det Con Lucy Jarrett, who investigated the incident, said: “Protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of what we do at Thames Valley Police and I am glad we have been able to stop this greedy couple from further abusing the trust an elderly relative had put in them. The Coopers must have thought they could get away with this blatant fraud indefinitely, but in the end they became too greedy and were found out by a relative who became suspicious and checked the accounts.

“I would like to express my admiration for the witnesses who travelled from as far as Australia, and especially Mrs Holland, who gave evidence via video link from her care home in Stone. She was extremely shocked when she discovered what her niece was doing to her and the past two-and-a-half years must have been very difficult for her. However, she has remained determined to see that justice is done.”