A WEDDING photographer who helped himself to more than £11,000 from his Down’s Syndrome sufferer brother will be jailed if he doesn't start saving to pay the victim back.
Burnley Crown Court heard how father-of-two Andrew Gary Woodhouse, 40, forged his co-signatory's signature on a trustee account operated on behalf of his vulnerable younger sibling Jason, 37.
The money in the account, from the brothers' late parents' pensions, was meant to provide for Jason, who needs 24 hour care, but instead Woodhouse was siphoning it from the Marsden Building Society and spending it because he had fallen into financial difficulties.
It had only ended because an eagle-eyed cashier at the building society got suspicious.
The hearing was told when Woodhouse was questioned by police over his six years of dishonesty, he was asked if he ever gave Jason any of the money.
Prosecutor Eric Lamb said: “His response was that he might have given him the odd tenner or the odd lottery ticket.”
The defendant had sentence deferred until January 9, by Judge Jonathan Gibson, who ordered him to save at least £100 per month if he is working and £30 if he is on benefits.
The judge who said if it came to it, a proceeds of crime hearing could be held and Woodhouse might have to sell his house to repay his brother, warned him: “If you don't abide by the conditions of the deferred sentence, you can expect an immediate custodial sentence.”
The defendant, of Cumberland Avenue, Burnley, had earlier admitted fraud by false representation, by falsifying the signature of Eileen Cullen. Woodhouse, who had no previous convictions, had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates.
The prosecutor said Mrs Cullen received a letter from the building society, telling her that Andrew Woodhouse had been into the branch and withdrawn £270 and the signature purportedly signed by her on the slip didn't match hers. Checks revealed £11,160 had been withdrawn. Mrs Cullen called the police, the defendant was interviewed and said he had spent the money on household bills, food and “maybe something for Jason.”
Nick Dearing, defending, said Woodhouse was now earning £20,000 and still had the wedding photography and portrait business, but publicity over the case had had a ‘huge impact’ upon it, there had been cancellations and work had dropped off.
The solicitor described the offence as a 'huge breach of trust'.