Thieving niece embezzled £ 130,000 from frail aunt’s checking account as an influence of lawyer

A former councilor who emptied her older aunt’s bank account was ordered to repay more than £ 100,000 in compensation.

Alice Duncan embezzled nearly £ 130,000 from the frail Jean Rossel, now 94, after inviting her to her Perthshire home and obtaining authority to manage her affairs.

73-year-old Duncan was found guilty of an “apparent breach of trust” by a jury at the Falkirk Sheriff Court last year.

Falkirk Sheriff Court

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The verdict has been repeatedly postponed so that Duncan could get money to reimburse the elderly lady who now lives in a nursing home in nearby Callander.

Earlier this year, the court was told that £ 20,000 had been repaid, but “efforts” to obtain a loan to cover the balance had failed.

But this week it was confirmed that Duncan had finally managed to sell her luxury home in Strathyre, Perthshire.

Attorney Jim Stephenson for Duncan informed the Falkirk Sheriff’s Court that the amount raised was nearly £ 246,500.

He said the money had been deposited into a customer account at his Edinburgh company.

Sheriff Christopher Shead issued an indemnity order for £ 109,000 and Stephenson promised that the money would be paid out.

The attorney made a further commitment that no more funds will be paid out of his company’s pot until the proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act against Duncan, which will begin with a hearing in the Falkirk Court on January 18, are completed.

Duncan’s victim Mrs. Rossel moved to Perthshire from southern England nine years ago, where Duncan was a distinguished member of the Strathyre Community Council.

The court heard last year that Ms. Rossel and her husband Frans had run a business in Sussex for 34 years, but after they retired they accepted an offer with her from Duncan, daughter of Ms. Rossel’s brother and her husband to live.

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The plan was that they would sell their bungalow in England and Duncan and her husband would organize the demolition of a tractor shed in their Strathyre home and the construction of a living room extension for Mr. and Mrs. Rossel in his place.

Mr Rossel never made it to the Duncan’s home because he was considered too frail to move in after being raised in a Sussex taxi ambulance and he went straight to a nursing home in nearby Callander where he was eventually died.

Ms. Rossel also first went to the nursing home, where Duncan showed up with two lawyers, “and it was discussed that she” would “take over her financial affairs.

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Ms. Rossel said as evidence, “Alice was in charge of my pension book. Because I trusted her, I made no observations at all about what was going on – I was just happy to be able to knit and do crossword puzzles.”

But after Frans died in October 2014 and the undertaker’s bill arrived, Ms. Rossel found that all of the money from the sale of her bungalow along with other savings had gone, and not even anything from her pension had accumulated.

Bonds she and her husband had bought to cover their funeral expenses were gone too – Duncan had cashed them.

Ms. Rossel said to prosecutor Samantha Brown, “I was shaken, absolutely shaken. What could I say to her? She had just helped herself with everything that was mine.

“It was very embarrassing that I couldn’t pay the funeral directors to cremate my husband.”

Ms. Rossel became aware of the plight of the Stirling Council social workers, who called in the police.

Duncan of Keip Road in Strathyre denied the embezzlement, but after a two-week trial in August 2019, a jury found her unanimously guilty of embezzling £ 129,000 from Ms. Rossel “in the region” while she was in a position of trust and she held power of attorney between January 1, 2011 and October 30, 2014.

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