Prison sentence for abusing elderly mother's power of attorney

A woman who abused a power of attorney given to her by her mother has been sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to return nearly €30,500 in cash and valuables

A woman who abused a power of attorney given to her by her mother, leaving the elderly woman without enough money to move into a residential care home, has been sent to prison and ordered to return nearly €30,500 in cash and valuables.

53-year old Aloisia Mifsud Grech was prosecuted after her elderly mother filed a report at the Birkirkara police station, claiming that one of her daughters had used her power of attorney to withdraw over €30,000 from her bank accounts.

The mother-of-eight, together with four of her adult children, subsequently reported that Mifsud Grech had also sold stocks and bonds belonging to her and had failed to return a gold family heirloom.

Mifsud Grech’s mother had ordered the immediate revocation of the powers of attorney five days before evicting the woman, who had resided in the mother’s home together with her husband for several years, out of the house.

She was subsequently charged with misappropriation which had occurred over the span of 12-months between 2014 and 2015.

The accused had claimed to have always acted upon the instructions of her mother, that the funds had been withdrawn in order to be shared among her siblings and that she was holding on to the valuables after her personal belongings had been left behind at her mother’s home when she was ordered out of it.

But the court, presided by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech also heard the ‘lucid and eloquent’ testimony of the elderly lady, whose account was corroborated by documentary evidence.

The magistrate noted that the accused’s version, on the other hand, was full of inconsistencies, “lies and tales”, and was not credible.

None of the woman’s siblings had received a “single penny” observed the magistrate, despite the woman’s claim.

Her mother testified that the accused “did not borrow, she stole,” cash, bonds and items from the house.

The court noted that Mifsud Grech’s elderly mother had never given the accused a “carte blanche” to do as she pleased with the money, adding that the accused had failed to bring a single piece of evidence showing that her many transactions at various retail outlets, supermarkets, a hotel and a beauty salon had been made with her mother’s permission.

In fact, over a 48 hour period, more than €25,000 had been withdrawn, said the court and there had been regular withdrawals of between €100 and €500 from an ATM in Birkirkara. A total of €30,466.25 had been taken by the accused.

The magistrate also took into account the fact that the woman’s mother and siblings had repeatedly called upon her to return the general and special power of attorney, but that these calls had fallen on deaf ears.

The woman’s actions had made her elderly mother unable to afford a care home where she had wanted to live out her twilight years, observed the court in its considerations on punishment.

Finding Mifsud Grech guilty of misappropriation, the Court condemned her to four years in prison and ordered her to return the misappropriated sum of €30,466.25 together with the gold items. The court said her punishment was to serve as a deterrent to those who sought to exploit vulnerable persons who, in their old age, had to turn to their trusted ones for help.

Magistrate Frendo Dimech also called upon the Commissioner of Police to investigate one of Mifsud Grech’s brothers for perjury after ruling that his testimony had been “totally fabricated” in a bid to help the accused.

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