Returned serviceman fleeced of life savings by daughter, leaving barely enough to pay for his funeral
By Kelly Dennett
Abridged from Sunday Star Times
When World War II veteran Ron Greenhalgh died on Father's Day last year, he had nothing but the second-hand clothes on his back, after his daughter stripped him of his life savings and spent them.
When Greenhalgh, 95, was admitted to a resthome with dementia, he had a home and significant savings at the end stages. By the time he died, his daughter had allegedly spent about $250,000 of his money at the TAB and to maintain her own lifestyle, leaving him with barely enough to pay for his funeral.
Her only brother, Mike Greenhalgh, is devastated by her theft and has been left asking why the depletion of their father's accounts was the only thing that stopped her.
Carolyn Diane Alleyne will be sentenced in the Manukau District Court, on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to six representative charges of theft by a person in a special relationship. Ron Greenhalgh was living in a care home with dementia when Alleyne began using her power of attorney to access his bank accounts, taking about $250,000, says Mike Greenhalgh.
When Ron's money ran out Alleyne moved him out of his care home and into her Pakuranga abode.
Shortly afterward he was hospitalised with pneumonia and spent eight weeks moving between various hospitals, eventually dying in an aged care facility on Father's Day last year.
Mike Greenhalgh became suspicious after Alleyne transferred Ron's car into her name and sought advice from various organisations, but nothing was done.
Mike and his wife Jenny previously had a good relationship with Alleyne, frequently visiting her and her husband at their home, and were gobsmacked when they learned Alleyne had effectively spent Mike Greenhalgh's entire inheritance.
It's one of a number of large-scale thefts of elderly making it through the courts in recent times.
In 2016, Taranaki woman Helen Christine Williams was sentenced to home detention and ordered to repay her father Ray Thomson after stealing $320,000 from him.
That same year, an Auckland man with name suppression was jailed for two years after siphoning more than $100,000 from his mother, who had dementia.
Age Concern says pensioners being fleeced of their savings is one of their most common complaints.
Bank records showed Alleyne had blown the money on her lifestyle, and the TAB, said Mike.
In one email, Alleyne admitted she had spent the lot, prompting Greenhalgh to insist she relinquish power of attorney.
When Greenhalgh opened his father's accounts all that was left was $16,000 in Bonus Bonds – enough to pay for a funeral.
One account was overdrawn by hundreds and another had just $16 left.
The Greenhalghs were so disgusted by Alleyne's deceit they opted to have a separate funeral for Ron.
Sitting in his Kaiaua home, Greenhalgh has ringbinders containing pages and pages of bank statements showing his sister's spending.
After printing them all off he bought a high-lighter pen with the intention of marking every time a suspicious transaction appeared.
He never used the highlighter – there were too many times she'd taken out money.
Greenhalgh chokes up when speaking about his sister's offending and wife Jenny leaves the room in a flood of tears, describing the rest home giving them Ron's belongings.
The only clothes he had were donated from residents who had died.
"It's not about the money. It's a huge betrayal," Greenhalgh says.
Even the police said they couldn't do anything, despite an email from Alleyne with her admissions.
"You get an email like that, saying I'm spending his money like it's going out of fashion, and you want something done now. Put a freeze on the accounts," Greenhalgh says.
Police said they needed evidence a crime had been committed before they could act.
Carolyn Alleyne said she had paid the court $120,000 in reparation which she expected would be given to Mike.
She refused to confirm if her total spending had been $250,000: "There's no proof".
When asked if she was remorseful, she replied: "Of course, what do you think?"
She declined to comment on what she spent the money on, or why, and rubbished the idea her father had only second-hand clothes when he died.
"I really don't want to discuss it with anybody else. I've discussed it with the lawyer, and that's as much as I want to discuss."
Age Concern chief executive Stephanie Clare said about 50 per cent of reported elderly abuse was financial and a lot of it involved power of attorneys.
"They think they've got the right to access the accounts, which is not what it's all about," she said.
"There's this societal lack of respect for elderly people and where they live in the world."
She advised anyone who suspected an elderly person was being financially abused to report it to Age Concern, as they often worked with police to investigate complaints.