Man jailed for not returning £280,000 he inherited from customer

A retired window cleaner who inherited £280,000 from a customer has been jailed for 12 months after he failed to return the money.

Albert Pearce, 83, looked after Julie Spalding in her final years and was the sole beneficiary of her will when she died aged 98 in 2008.

However, Ms Spalding’s nephew contested the will.

Pearce was subsequently ordered to return the money.

Pearce claimed he had no bank accounts and no assets of any value, other than a car worth £5,000. He repeatedly claimed there was £300,000 in cash in the boot of the car, but that bailiffs had taken it away. He further claimed that he spent all the money on three world cruises, gambling it away in casinos and racetracks and on other holidays in Scotland and the Midlands.

Mrs Justice Andrews said, ‘The reason that the loss was not reported, and that no complaint was made about it, was because it did not happen.’ She added that it appeared that Pearce felt a moral entitlement to keep the money as he cared for Ms Spalding in her final years, but unfortunately for him, he had no legal right to it.