A scheming young woman left her own grandfdather penniless in a “mean and destructive” scam.
Olivia Crutchley fleeced £75,000 from Roy Crutchley whom she described as her “best friend” after inventing a legal battle with B&Q and billing him for her supposed solicitors fees. She conned the 79-year-old victim over the course of more than 18 months in order to fund her drug addiction.
Crutchley, 23, bombarded the pensioner with a slew of fake emails, purporting to be from lawyers and the Citizens Advice Bureau as she apparently attempted to sue her former employer – despite having never actually worked for the DIY giant.
But yesterday the defendant was jailed for two years at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting fraud during an earlier hearing. Her girlfriend wept in the public gallery, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Sentencing, Recorder Graham Wells said: “I have to sentence you for an unpleasant, mean and destructive offence. It is a terrible offence. You have destroyed your relationship, but you also destroyed the peace and quietness of his retirement. It was over a period of years, taking him for all he had and then some.”
Crutchley had a “strong bond” with her grandfather, with him even becoming a guarantor on her flat when she moved to Liverpool. He paid her rent on a number of occasions.
But Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said Crutchley told her grandad she had begun working for B&Q in late 2020 and was promoted to the position of assistant manager. However, she claimed that she had been left out of pocket due to extra training as part of this new role which was not paid for by the company.
This apparently included travel and accommodation expenses for sessions in Southport, Birmingham and London. Mr Crutchley was forwarded mocked up emails from her supposed supervisor in relation to these costs and those of purchasing her uniform.
Between December 2020 and June 2022, he would receive around 140 such emails – with others coming from the likes of solicitors and citizens advice staff. The OAP initially agreed to shell out £1,000 to cover these expenses.
Crutchley, who now lives in Warrington, Cheshire, later informed him that she had stopped working for B&Q and had been in contact with the Citizens Advice Bureau over potential court proceedings. In September 2021, she contacted Mr Crutchley over WhatsApp with a screenshot of an email apparently from an employee of the organisation stating that she would need to make payments in order to start this process.
This fictional correspondence with demands for money continued regularly, with other contact supposedly coming from lawyers seeking fees. Excuses given included the solicitor working on her case suffering a “family emergency”, which meant that she needed to pay for a new legal team.
One such fake legal professional even began emailing Mr Crutchley directly. However, he became suspicious after one “unprofessional” message in which a lawyer he had never met told him his daughter had died of cancer. The victim also “found it strange” that the email address was from an AOL account rather than having a professional company address. The solicitor also made no reference to being a part of any specific firm.
Over the course of the scam, Mr Crutchley had transferred a total of £68,911.56 to his granddaughter and a further £6,057.30 to her partner. This resulted in an overall loss of £74,968.86.
His life savings were wiped out, with his credit cards taken to the “limit”. Mr Crutchley also took out two bank loans, borrowed money from family and friends and had to sell his car and personal possessions.
In a statement read out to the court on his behalf, he said: “I did this to help my eldest granddaughter. She has been through so much in her life, I just wanted something to go well for her. I thought I was helping her. I just wanted the best for her.”
Mr Crutchley described how he had been “happily married” for 51 years, but their money problems had caused issues between him and his wife. He worried that he would have to sell his house and would end up homeless, adding: “We have worked so hard our whole lives, this is the time to enjoy ourselves. I am so ashamed that we have had to ask friends to borrow money. My wife can’t even afford a new pair of glasses she needs. How do I get out of this situation? I have no idea why Olivia has done this to me after all the help I have given her over the years. This has turned my life upside down. I have no money to pay for mine or my wife’s funerals, should the worst happen to us.”
Both Crutchley’s supposed employment with B&Q and all the emails involving the lawsuit were a “complete and utter fabrication”. She was arrested in October last year, at which point she “fully admitted the offence”.
Rosemary Proctor, defending, told the court: “Ms Crutchley has destroyed her relationship with the man she describes as her best friend growing up. She will have to live with that.
“She was addicted to opiates. She was desperate at the time of the offence. She wasn’t thinking about the consequences of her actions, only her addiction. Her addiction was her world at that time. As her addiction spiralled, so did her deception. In her own words: ‘I can’t believe how selfish I was, I was in a place where I would have done anything to get my hands on them – I sold my TV, I sold everything in my flat.”
Ms Proctor said that her “deeply remorseful” client’s addiction began when taking tramadol following a workplace accident, adding: “She understands her addiction is not an excuse, but it is a reason. There is no suggestion that she would have committed this offence had it not been for her addiction. She has sought out help for her addiction. Her arrest was a real wake up call.
“She wants to get to the point where she can work and pay her grandfather back. She has a lot of time to change, and there is every chance this will be the last time she appears before the court.”
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