WWII veteran’s stepdaughter spends his life savings on pokies
- From: The Sunday Telegraph
- May 24, 2015
HE worked hard for more than 50 years to ensure he lived out his final days comfortably and left plenty behind for his family.
But instead, World War II veteran Lawrence Lane died almost penniless and devastated after his stepdaughter robbed him of hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed her gambling addiction.
“I believe that had a lot to do with his health declining in the end,” his granddaughter Georgia Lane said.
“He was really healthy and happy until he found out what was going on.”
Julie Kemp, 66, was convicted last week of 50 counts of dishonestly obtaining benefit by deception after she gambled away almost $250,000 of Mr Lane’s money without permission.
Ms Kemp, who lived with Mr Lane from the age of two after he married her mother, was given power of attorney over Mr Lane’s bank accounts and assets when she agreed to live with him and care for him in 2010.
Over a period of two years Ms Kemp is alleged to have stolen $248,000, including a $100,000 nursing home deposit, which she subsequently gambled on the poker machines at various RSL and sporting clubs.
Court documents show Mr Lane’s bank accounts totalled $362,969 when Ms Kemp took over power of attorney.
There was just $45,000 left in them when that power was revoked in 2012.
At that time, Ms Kemp had less than $100 in her own account after gambling it away.
During the trial, the prosecution alleged Ms Kemp “deliberately did not disclose” her gambling addiction when she was given power of attorney “so that she could gain access to the victim’s money”.
Mr Lane, who served as a stretcher bearer in the ambulance corps in Greece, the Middle East and Borneo during the war, had also been receiving the veteran’s pension at the time his money was stolen.
Ms Lane said the “betrayal” took a toll on her “gentle and humble” grandfather, who died in 2013.
“He felt really bad and kept saying ‘I’m sorry I’ve put this on you’,” she said.
“He just felt so silly that he’d let it happen. He worked all his life to build that up and it’s sad that at the end of his life he didn’t have it.”
Ms Lane said she moved her grandfather into a Queensland nursing home after the crimes came to light, but he had very little money left.
“He felt he shouldn’t have been there because he knew he didn’t have much money. He didn’t feel like he could have the things he liked. He didn’t even feel he had enough money for fish and chips.”
Ms Lane said she and her family wanted to warn others about the dangers of giving power of attorney to just one person.
“The only reason justice got served here is because it was a lot of money, otherwise they may not have bothered investigating like they did. We want people to realise you cannot give someone singular power of attorney and you have to have some checking measures to ensure they don’t use it like their own bank account.”
Ms Kemp was sentenced to 16 months in jail and will appear in court again on June 18 to determine if her sentence will be spent in custody or home detention.