Care home fraud­ster’s sons in the clear

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY NEIL DOCK­ING name.name@reach­plc­com @visiter

THE sons of an evil care home owner who stole more than £4m from el­derly res­i­dents have been cleared of money laun­der­ing.

David Bar­ton se­nior, 64, cheated OAPs out of their life sav­ings at Bar­ton Park Nurs­ing Home in Ox­ford Road, South­port.

He was con­victed ear­lier this year af­ter the long­est trial in the his­tory of Liver­pool Crown Court – last­ing more than a year.

Bar­ton snr, of Ox­ford Road, who be­friended then be­trayed his wealthy and vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims, was jailed for 21 years in July.

The court heard that he used his two sons’ bank ac­counts to try to hide £130,000 of dirty cash from the po­lice to keep his busi­ness afloat.

For­mer Tory coun­cil­lor for Sefton bor­ough, David Richard Bar­ton, 28, and his brother David Charles Bar­ton, 25, de­nied money laun­der­ing.

They stood trial along­side Bar­ton snr over a series of trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing their stu­dent bank ac­counts be­tween Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2015.

But their case was split from their dad’s mid­way through the trial, due to Judge Steven Everett’s con­cerns about the ev­i­dence against them.

Ex-South­port Dukes ward coun­cil­lor David Richard, and David Charles, both of Ox­ford Road, were to face trial again in Jan­uary.

But af­ter re­view­ing the ev­i­dence, pros­e­cu­tors de­cided to of­fer no ev­i­dence against David Charles, who was for­mally found not guilty.

Fol­low­ing a sub­mis­sion of no case to an­swer by his de­fence lawyers, David Richard has now been ac­quit­ted of the charge.

Bar­ton snr was con­victed of five fraud of­fences, three counts of theft, false ac­count­ing and trans­fer­ring crim­i­nal prop­erty.

Com­pany di­rec­tors David Richard and David Charles, both of Ox­ford Road, were not al­leged to have been in­volved in his crimes against res­i­dents.

Bar­ton snr sold a Roll­sRoyce Cor­niche worth £150,000 to one vic­tim, Pa­tri­cia An­der­son-Scott, at the “crim­i­nally in­flated” value of £500,000.

When she died at 94, he stole back the car – which never left his garage – then sold it for £150,000 in July 2015, pay­ing £10,000 com­mis­sion.

The re­main­ing £140,000 was paid into his bank ac­count, which was over­drawn by about £10,000, mean­ing he was left with some £130,000.

He trans­ferred £62,000 to David Richard, whose ac­count pre­vi­ously held some £7,000, and £60,000 to David Charles, whose ac­count held £3,000.

David Richard re­ceived a fur­ther £7,000 from an­other of his dad’s ac­counts, which held more than £1m af­ter Bar­ton snr sold four Fer­raris.

The ex-politi­cian also re­ceived £30,000 from his brother’s ac­count, mean­ing £92,000 had been cred­ited to him in 10 days.

Around £88,000 was then trans­ferred from David Richard’s ac­count to Choice Clas­sic Ltd (CCL), the busi­ness un­der which Bar­ton Park traded.

David Richard had never trans­ferred money to CCL be­fore and £10,860 of un­trace­able cash with­drawals were also made from his ac­count.

The £30,000 left in David Charles’s ac­count was moved to CCL in two trans­fers. Prior to this, he too had never trans­ferred money to CCL.

Pros­e­cu­tors said ev­i­dence showed the sons both knew of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion and al­leged they must have been aware of re­straints on their dad’s as­sets.

But as the first trial un­folded, Judge Everett said it emerged there was no ev­i­dence they knew or sus­pected the Rolls-Royce was stolen, or had en­tered into any ar­range­ment with their dad.

David Richard chose not to give ev­i­dence, but Judge Everett said when David Charles took the stand, he was “an im­pres­sive wit­ness”.

He said: “My own sub­jec­tive view was if the case had pro­ceeded as it was, he was highly likely to be ac­quit­ted.”

The judge said it was ac­cepted David Richard knew noth­ing of the frauds at Bar­ton Park and his dad was likely to have “mis­led his sons”.

He said the prose­cu­tion case came down to the al­le­ga­tion he “should have sus­pected some­thing was wrong” about the money trans­fers.

Judge Everett said: “I tell you frankly, this is a dif­fi­cult case to make a de­ci­sion on. It’s a fine line.”

The judge said Bar­ton snr in­sisted his sons call him “Mr Bar­ton” and ev­i­dence showed “he con­trolled that nurs­ing home with a rod of iron”.

He said Bar­ton snr, backed by the home’s gen­eral man­ager Rose­mary Booth, was “se­cre­tive” and “per­fectly ca­pa­ble of ma­nip­u­la­tion of peo­ple who were close to them”.

Judge Everett said there was sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence Bar­ton snr ma­nip­u­lated so­lic­i­tors, fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers and em­ploy­ees, and he could have done the same to David Richard.

He said: “In my judge­ment the ev­i­dence raises the in­fer­ence his fa­ther was per­fectly ca­pa­ble of ma­nip­u­lat­ing him in a way he would not have known.”

The judge said the fact the money was trans­ferred back to CCL, rather than to an­other bank ac­count, was an im­por­tant fac­tor in his favour.

He said: “In my judge­ment the re­al­ity is when look­ing at the case, no jury prop­erly di­rected could prop­erly con­clude the case against him could be made.”

The Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion has closed Bar­ton Park and can­celled the provider’s reg­is­tra­tion.

Bar­ton snr’s wife, Lucinda Bar­ton, 55, also of Ox­ford Road, de­nies con­spir­acy to steal, false ac­count­ing, con­spir­acy to de­fraud, theft and money laun­der­ing.

She is on bail and was to stand trial next month, but this was can­celled. A new trial date is yet to be con­firmed.

David Bar­ton, whose sons, David Richard, be­low left, and David Charles, be­low right were cleared of money laun­der­ing charges

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