WWII Veteran 'Left To Die In Poverty' After Son-In-Law Stole More Than £114k

Ian Downs, 66, admitted took £95,000 from Second World War veteran Mary Garvey, and then took a further £19,697.

Mary Garvey died in May 2013 (Picture: Northumbria Police). 

A war hero died in poverty after her son-in-law stole more than £100,000 from her, relatives have said.

Ian Downs, 66, admitted pocketing £95,000 from dementia patient Mary Garvey then took another £20,000 after she died in May 2013.

When relatives asked about any inheritance, he put them off for months until they eventually contacted detectives in Newcastle and the fraud was discovered.

Mrs Garvey served in the British Army Catering Corps in the Second World War and was credited with helping to prevent a bomb explosion on an Allied train while travelling across Europe.

She met husband Anthony while he was in the Durham Light Infantry and they went on to run a pub until she was widowed in 1977, and in later years she developed dementia.

Northumbria Police said Mr Downs took control of her financial matters but secretly made payments into his own accounts.

Mr and Mrs Garvey on their wedding day (Picture: Northumbria Police).

He gave his mother-in-law, who lived in sheltered accommodation in Benton, money to spend each week and bought her groceries and clothing.

When relatives asked for her to be moved to a care home for veterans, he said it was not a good idea.

He had stolen £95,000 before pocketing a further £19,697 in life insurance policies after she died aged 94.

The deceit happened over eight years and was discovered when one of Mrs Garvey's two daughters, Gwenda, the sister-in-law of Mr Downs, and the widow's granddaughter Angela asked about any inheritance.

Eventually Angela, who has asked for her surname not to be revealed, demanded copies of the accounts and when she got no response the fraud was uncovered.

Mr Downs, of Saint Bedes, East Boldon, admitted two counts of theft at Newcastle Crown Court last month and will be sentenced on February 27.

Mrs Garvey and her husband, Anthony, (Picture: Northumbria Police).

Angela said: "This case was never about the money.

"It was about the fact a woman who dedicated her life to her country was left to die in poverty.

"My grandmother deserved a life of luxury and should have had anything she wanted, but instead a person she trusted ended up stealing all her money.

"She was vulnerable, lonely and suffering from dementia but my uncle took advantage of that for his own financial gain.

"He has torn our family apart and I will never be able to forgive him for how he treated my grandmother. I am glad that he will now be held accountable for his actions."

Following the conviction, Detective Constable Frank Cox described the case as an "appalling breach of trust".