Scottish Daily Mail

They should be locked up!

Relative’s fury as two shameless couples who persuaded vulnerable brothers to sign over farm for free are ordered to repay thousands

- By Bethan Sexton

TWO couples who manipulate­d three elderly brothers into signing over their home have been told to repay hundreds of thousands of pounds.

They were found to have used ‘undue influence’ to persuade the pensioners to gift them the Highland farm where they had spent their entire lives.

Former Church of Scotland minister Ivan Warwick, 69, his spouse Jocelyn, 60, along with Douglas Stewart and his wife Marie, both 70, befriended Hugh, Roderick and David McCulloch.

In 2014, the couples convinced the brothers, then aged 84, 82 and 79, to sign over Logie Farm, in Muir of Ord, Easter Ross.

Hugh and David, who have since died, suffered from dementia. Roderick lives in a care home and was described in court as a ‘sheltered’ individual, with ‘no ordinary experience of life’.

Mr Warwick and Mr Stewart appointed themselves as attorneys for the brothers and insinuated they would care for them in their advancing age. Instead, they were placed in separate care homes and their farm sold off for £390,000 without them receiving independen­t legal advice.

Following a hearing at Inverness Sheriff Court, the two couples have been ordered to pay back the full amount to Roderick McCulloch and his late brothers’ estate.

In her judgment, Sheriff Sara Matheson said the farm transfer was arranged when the brothers were ‘of deteriorat­ing health and susceptibl­e to influence’.

They first met the Stewarts, of Muir of Ord, through pipe band performanc­es. In 2011, the couple approached them about building a house on their land. From that point on, Mr Stewart ‘pursued a friendship as he considered there might be more to gain from it’, Sheriff Matheson said.

He involved the Warwicks, of Dingwall, as Mr Warwick’s occupation ‘would add a veneer of respectabi­lity to matters’.

In 2013, Mr Stewart used his power of attorney to pay himself £40,000 from the brothers’ joint account. He also set up a PO box to access their post. A year later, the farm was signed over.

The brothers had previously said they wanted it to remain intact and then be passed on to their nearest relative, Hugh Fraser.

Mr Fraser’s wife, Mary, said: ‘They should be locked up. What they have done is unbelievab­le. They lived together all their lives and then they split them up and that’s what finished them.’

Sheriff Matheson added that the ‘independen­ce and the quality’ of advice from solicitor Alasdair Fraser, who oversaw the power of attorney changes, was ‘seriously called into question’. He insisted his conduct was ‘above board’.

Mr Stewart maintains that he and his family were ‘best friends’ with the brothers, who gifted him land in return for help in caring for them. He is seeking permission to appeal.

 ?? ?? Cruelly separated: Roderick McCulloch, left, with his older brother Hugh. Right, Ivan and Jocelyn Warwick took over
Cruelly separated: Roderick McCulloch, left, with his older brother Hugh. Right, Ivan and Jocelyn Warwick took over
 ?? ?? Family home: Work at Logie Farm
Family home: Work at Logie Farm

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