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Cabbie stole £200,000 of aunt's savings

    A 59-year-old man who forged a legal document to obtain thousands of pounds of his elderly relative's savings has been jailed for three years.

    The fraudulent document made by Malcolm Laster, of Edgware, gave him control of more than £200,000 belonging to his wife's aunt, 82-year-old Sadie Joseph.

    Over a two-year period Laster spent £218,208 on holidays to America and gifts for friends and family, St Albans Crown Court heard.

    The former taxi driver even paid for haircuts for friends, while saving cash by cancelling Mrs Joseph's own hair appointments at the Sunrise Care Home in Elstree.

    Laster was married to Mrs Joseph's niece Shirley, but she was too ill with motor neurone disease to accept power of attorney over her aunt's affairs. She died two years ago.

    Mrs Joseph has been left with just £10,000 and will probably have to move to a cheaper care home.

    "This was a particularly vulnerable victim and the offence is further aggravated as it was a breach of trust by a family member," said Andrea Scott Lynch, prosecuting.

    Laster went on a spending spree from June 2007 to August 2009, before he was arrested. He told police he considered the money his, as his family had been told it would be coming to them in due course.

    He suffers from bipolar disorder and low self-esteem and said he often needed to make himself seem "bigger".

    Laster, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

    A request by Alex Radley, defending, for a psychiatric report before sentence, was rejected by the judge, who said a doctor had assessed that Laster's condition had no bearing on his offending.

    Mr Radley said Laster had been suffering from depression since his wife's death and the loss of his taxi driver job due to medication for depression.

    Recorder Bryan, QC, told Laster: "You have left her penniless, without the security she needs. I accept you are a long-term sufferer of mental illness, but your symptoms did not impair your judgement."

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