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Jailed: Norfolk garden centre owner who stole almost half a million from elderly mother

PUBLISHED: 06:41 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:36 12 October 2018

Gary Woodley, of Norwich Road, Aylsham, stole £480,000 from his 89-year-old mother to pay off loans and fund his lifestyle between 2013 and 2016. Photo: Norfolk Police

Gary Woodley, of Norwich Road, Aylsham, stole £480,000 from his 89-year-old mother to pay off loans and fund his lifestyle between 2013 and 2016. Photo: Norfolk Police

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The owner of a Norfolk garden centre today starts a four year jail sentence for stealing almost half a million pounds from his elderly mother.

Aylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gary Woodley, of Norwich Road, Aylsham, stole £480,000 from 89-year-old Kathleen Woodley to pay off loans and fund his lifestyle between 2013 and 2016.

Norwich Crown Court heard how the 66-year-old, who owns Aylsham Garden Centre, is now “likely” to lose his business as a result of his actions.

Sentencing Woodley on Thursday, Judge Katharine Moore said he had not shown a “shred of remorse” for what happened.

Woodley, along with his brother, became a power of attorney for his mother’s property and financial affairs in 2013 after she was moved into a care home.

Aylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But the court heard how Woodley’s brother raised concerns and invoked his power of attorney in February 2016 after significant withdrawals were taken from the victim’s bank accounts over a number of years.

Police were informed and Woodley was arrested on September 15, 2016.

He was charged on December 19, 2016 with one count of fraud by abuse of position and one count of theft

His mother, Mrs Woodley died during the investigation on March 24, 2017.

Aylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAylsham Garden Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Woodley pleaded guilty at a previous hearing at Norwich Crown Court to fraud by abuse of position and theft.

Judge Moore said Woodley used £250,000 to pay down loans secured to his own property.

She said £159,000 from the sale of his mother’s bungalow was used to pay off a mortgage on the garden centre.

The court heard how Woodley claimed £1,250 was withdrawn in cash to pay for part of his mother’s care home fees.

He further claimed £522 was paid to an architect for an ensuite bathroom to be added to his home should his mother be allowed to live there.

Judge Moore said Woodley was at times “deliberately evasive” when asked about the evidence against him.

She said she rejected the assertion that Woodley’s mother had said to pay off a loan.

She also rejected that some of the money had been a gift authorised by his mother.

Following Woodley’s dispute of an original £489,027 figure, Judge Moore lowered it to £480,000.

She described his offending as “mean” and “particularly serious” due to the breach of trust.

“The offending is also serious because of the number of dishonest transactions”, she said.

Judge Moore said Woodley had previously been known as a decent, hard-working family man.

But she told the court he had not shown a “shred of remorse.”

“You let yourself down very badly”, she added.

“It is likely you will lose your business and home as a consequence of your actions.”

Woodley, who had four previous convictions and was described as being in “less than good health”, was jailed for four years, of which he will serve half.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation hearing will take place in due course.

Det Con Bridget Milne, from Norfolk Constabulary’s adult abuse investigation unit, which carried out the investigation, said: “Gary Woodley abused the position that he held as power of attorney to his elderly, vulnerable mother. Instead of managing the victim’s money in her best interests and providing for her, Woodley used the money very much to further his own lifestyle.

“Norfolk Constabulary will continue to work with partner agencies to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from these types of crimes.”

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