An alcoholic who fleeced his elderly mother out of more than £18,000 has been ordered to pay about half of it back or go to jail for an extra six months.

Michael Stephen Hughes, 59, was convicted last April of what was described as “a disgraceful breach of trust”.

Hughes, of Hampden Way, Acrefair near Wrexham, denied a fraud charge, but was convicted and was jailed for two years and eight months.

Yesterday he was back at Mold Crown Court via a live television link from Kirkham Prison for a financial hearing under The Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judge Rhys Rowlands made an agreed order that the defendant’s criminal benefit from his crime was £18,400.

The available amount for confiscation was £9,360 and he was ordered to pay that within three months or serve six months in default.

At the previous hearing the court was told that at the relevant time the defendant’s mother was suffering from progressive dementia and spent much of the relevant time in hospital or in a care home. She had died by the time of his trial.

Judge Rowlands said that at the time the defendant was living at his mother’s home in Cefn Mawr, Wrexham, with his wife and son.

His younger brother and sister were living away so he was trusted with his mother’s bank card.

“You repaid that trust by repeatedly stealing her money,” he said.

His brother and sister became concerned both at their mother’s condition and having the feeling the defendant was trying to exclude them.

Judge Rowlands said: “The reason for excluding them only became apparent when repeated cash withdrawals were discovered.”

He added: “You also made the quite ridiculous suggestion that your mother, despite being very, very ill, was spending the money herself on clothes and food.

“Your described her to the jury as a shopaholic.”

The judge said the truth was the defendant had used her home as his own and had done the same with her money.

“You were stealing it in a dreadful breach of trust, against an elderly lady towards the end of her life,” Judge Rowlands told him.

He said he could well understand how the family had been split
and how his siblings must feel at the way he was behaving towards their mother and being unable to prevent it happening.

“You are a thoroughly dishonest individual,” Judge Rowlands told him.

Defending barrister Matthew Dunford said his client suffered from arthritis and heart disease, and appeared to have abused alcohol to cope.

His wife came from the Philippines and they had a 10-year-old son.

During his trial, the defendant denied using his mother’s money as his own and said the cost of plane flights to the Philippines for his wife had been with his mother’s blessing.