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The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland welcomes financial abuse conviction.

26 April, 2017

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch has welcomed the conviction of a man for financially abusing an older person, in a court in Belfast today.

Ron Skates pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information and theft, following several years of financial abuse against his aunt who passed away in 2012 aged 92. During this period Mr Skates falsely claimed over £34,000 and earlier today was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and payment of £3000 legal fees.  

Today’s conviction followed three years of the Commissioner’s office working with the PSNI to ensure that the perpetrator was brought to justice after the family contacted the Commissioner to ask for his help in ensuring that the case was brought to court.

Speaking about the case, Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland said; “I am pleased to see a conviction for this case of financial abuse against an older person. I’m heartened that Ron Skates will have to complete 200 hours of service to the community as a result of him admitting to a sustained period of dishonesty and theft falsely claiming £34,000 which belonged to his older aunt. It’s entirely appropriate that Mr Skates has been brought to account for his actions. In my role as Commissioner for Older People I have seen the devastating impact that financial abuse can have on older people and therefore it is vital that strong action is taken when this abuse is uncovered. Aside from the financial loss itself, this crime brings with it feelings of betrayal, embarrassment and fear.

“My legal officers have worked tirelessly with the victim’s family and the PSNI to bring this case through to completion and I am pleased that members of the victim’s family came to my office and drew this to my attention. However I am aware that it is often difficult and painful for older people to report financial abuse, especially when the perpetrator is a trusted person.

“Additionally, when the financial abuser is a family member it can be difficult to get the authorities to treat the case as a crime, rather than a domestic or civil matter. I would like to express my gratitude to Detective Sergeant Philip McCullagh for his tenacity in working with my office to ensure that justice was delivered for the victim. I also want to applaud the persistence of the victim’s family who were not prepared to see this crime go unpunished. Today’s conviction will help to send a strong message that financial abuse of older people will not be tolerated.”

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland launched a report in September 2016 which showed that 1 in 5 older people in Northern Ireland have experienced financial abuse. To download Financial Abuse of Older People in Northern Ireland: The Unsettling Truth please visit www.copni.org.

ENDS///

26/04/2017

For further information, contact Christy Hunter, Communications and Engagement Manager:

Tel: 02890 890899 / 074 2399 6035

Email: Christy.Hunter@copni.org

Web: www.copni.org

Notes to editor

  1. The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland was established in 2011 and is a non-departmental public body. Both the Commissioner and the office are sponsored by the Department for Communities but are operationally independent. The Commissioner’s principal aim is to safeguard and promote the interests of older people, which is defined by legislation as including those aged 60 and over, and in exceptional circumstances, those aged 50 or over. The Commissioner has promotional, advisory, educational and general investigatory duties and powers. For more information please visit http://www.copni.org/images/publications/Short_guide_to_the_work_of_COPNI_2016.pdf.