Posted by Amanda Noyce, Partner
Care home fraudster jailed – Justice for Gordon Willey’s family
Southport care home fraudster David Barton has today been found guilty on multiple counts of defrauding elderly people in their care following a year-long criminal trial. He will be sentenced on Friday (13 July) for his offences against various elderly …
Southport care home fraudster David Barton has today been found guilty on multiple counts of defrauding elderly people in their care following a year-long criminal trial. He will be sentenced on Friday (13 July) for his offences against various elderly and vulnerable people, but particularly against Gordon and Katie Willey (now deceased).
The family of now-deceased Gordon Willey have welcomed the verdict, saying that “this has been a difficult time for the families involved and now justice has been done”.
The civil case involved claims of a verbal contract that Mr Willey and his wife Katie Willey would transfer the entirety of their wealth in return for being allowed to stay at Barton Park Nursing Home in Southport for the remainder of their lives; or for nursing home fees of £8,500 a week together with ‘additional services’ totalling £39,000 a week. It also involved steps taken by the nursing home owners and staff using various isolation techniques to prevent Mr and Mrs Willey having proper access to their family and close friends.
Amanda Noyce, a Partner at Royds Withy King who successfully defended Mr Willey during the £6 million civil case against him, said: “The outrageous civil claim was brought by David Barton both personally and through his companies Choiceclassic Limited and Barton Park Health Spa Limited.
“We were so incensed by the audacity of the claim that we reported the matter to the Liverpool Police and a criminal investigation ensued, resulting in a trial of David Barton and various of his associates, which has lasted over a year and, now, their conviction on multiple counts of fraud.”
Speaking on behalf of the Willeys’ family, Amanda said: “The family are pleased with the verdict. This has been a very painful number of years for them. Sadly, Mr and Mrs Willey are no longer here, but their family is pleased that justice has at last been done.
“It is deeply upsetting to the family that, having enjoyed a lifetime of happy times and close relationships with Mr and Mrs Willey, the defendants deliberately isolated them at the very time when they were most vulnerable.
“In a sense, thankfully Mr Willey had lost mental capacity by this time and so was unaware of his situation, but that was not true of his wife. The manipulation of Mrs Willey’s relationship with the family at the end of her life, so that she died, isolated and alone, despite all the efforts made by the family to re-engage with her, was a deep cruelty and meant that she died without a true knowledge of her family’s love for her.
“The family are grateful that Mr Willey was removed from Barton Park, after a court battle, and he died after a couple of comfortable years at the Letcombe Regis nursing home in Oxfordshire. They can only hope that Mr and Mrs Willey are now aware of the family’s concerns for them both.”
Background to the case
Mr Willey died on 3 December 2016 aged 87. He had lacked the mental capacity to manage his own affairs for a number of years, and until her death in May 2013 his wife, Mrs Willey, acted for her husband through a Lasting Power of Attorney.
A claim was brought against Mrs Willey’s estate and against Mr Willey, still then a resident at Barton Park, by David Barton, and by his companies Choiceclassic Limited and Barton Park Health Spa Limited. Mr Barton argued that there had been an oral contract entered into by Mrs Willey on behalf of herself and of her husband, under which she had agreed to transfer the entirety of her and her husband’s joint assets in return for an assurance that they could both live at the Barton Park Nursing Home in Southport for the rest of their lives.
Those assets included a valuable collection of 12 classic cars, worth over £4 million. Mr Barton is himself a motor car enthusiast and at this time Mr Barton owned a large collection of valuable cars including a Ferrari Enzo.
The Bartons argued that there was a contract under which they could charge nursing fees to Mr Willey of £5,000 per week and to Mrs Willey for £3,500 per week, even though she did not require nursing care, and also charge for certain “additional services”, including driving costs of £39,000 per week, totalling a claim of over £6 million. Charges were also claimed for significant additional service costs for sundry items such as for hairdressing, parties etc. worth, allegedly, hundreds of thousands of pounds.
It became apparent that David Barton and certain key members of his staff at the Barton Park Nursing Home had employed various isolation techniques to prevent Mr and Mrs Willey from having proper access to their family and close friends. The Willeys had no children of their own but had always been very close to their siblings, nieces and nephews.
David Barton has also been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and theft against other past and present residents at the Barton Park Nursing Home; most of the victims are now dead. However Mr and Mrs Willey were the most significant victims in terms of monetary value of the fraud.
Mr Barton`s care home manager Rosemary Booth was also convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Willeys.
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