A nephew who used his wealthy aunt’s bank card to go on a £24,300 shopping spree after she was left partially BLIND has been spared jail.
Scheming Michael Speller, 25, claimed his relative Lynda Speller said “have whatever you want” after he broke up with his girlfriend.
But Ms Speller, who is a successful businesswoman in the cosmetics industry, told a jury his account was “absolute rubbish”.
A court heard Speller was caught when his aunt was contacted by TheHut.com who asked her if she had spent £6,000 with them in the last week.
Ms Speller, who can only read figures and letters that are 6cm high, then discovered her nephew had used her card to go on a spending spree between June 2014 and March last year.
Speller ordered clothing, household items, mobile phones, watches, computer games and iPads.
A court heard he even advertised several of the items for sale on eBay “as new,” including four iPads, a Dyson vacuum and sunglasses.
Speller, of Market Harborough, Leics., was found guilty of fraudulently obtaining 410 items in 60 online purchases at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday (24/8).
But he was spared jail when he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years on Thursday (25/8).
Speller was ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work as well as a 30 day rehabilitation requirement and told to pay a £100 victim surcharge.
Sentencing him, Recorder Dominic Nolan QC said: “You stand convicted after a trial for an offence of fraud committed against your aunt.
“You knew she was wealthy after she had devoted many years to hard work in her business.
“You saw the opportunity to take some of the fruits of her hard work and exploited that to your own advantage.
“You obtained expensive items of furnishing for your flat, clothing and luxury goods.
“You became more confident and more greedy. Her account was plundered because you could get access to her card details.
“In the end no actual loss was incurred because she was refunded.
“With justification, your aunt will feel a sense of betrayal.
“Since these matters came to light 15 months ago you haven’t been in trouble and have begun to turn your life around.
“The pre-sentence report indicated your risk of re-offending is low and that’s because you’ve made positive efforts to change.
“You now accept you had no right to spend your aunt’s money as you did.”
During the two-day trial, the jury heard Ms Speller would not have been able to read her bank statements and she said she had no need to check.
Giving evidence wearing dark glasses, she described how she had been severely affected by an eye disease which left her with blurred vision and barely able to see.
Ms Speller said: “I wasn’t aware any money was being spent.
“I knew I hadn’t overspent so there was no need to worry.
“I’ve never given Michael my card or PIN.”
Ms Speller told the jury she was only able to read letters or figures if they were six centimetres high on an oversized computer screen.
She agreed she bought her nephew new clothing after his relationship broke down when he temporarily stayed at her home.
But Ms Speller said it was done through a Pay Pal account with funds already in it and didn’t involve her debit card.
Prosecutor Joey Kwong said: “The defendant is an uncaring man with a twisted and unwarranted sense of entitlement.
“He must have thought she was wealthy so she could afford it and she could hardly see – so as long as he didn’t empty her bank account he thought he could get away with it.”
Speller claimed his aunt was “extravagant” and known to be generous but said he “got a bit carried away” after she gave him permission to order items for his new flat.
Giving evidence, he told the jury: “She said get whatever you want, as much as you want as long as you do duties around the house.
“She’d looked after me since I was a baby.”
Speller’s mother Deana Speller, who is the victim’s sister, also gave evidence supporting her son’s version of events.
James Bide-Thomas, defending, said Speller was a “naive and an emotionally immature man”.
He added: “He’s been sending money to someone who is allegedly his fiancee in South Africa.
“He’s also seeking to become a Jehovah’s Witness, it’s something important to him.
“He’s taken steps in an attempt to improve the way he looks at the world.”