Care home fraudster’s sons in the clear
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