A Canadian woman, Michelle Bouchard, was jailed for 12 years for stealing more than $2m from an elderly man in the Cayman Islands.
Wasting no time, Justice Paul Worsley sentenced her for a total of seven years for theft, one year for forgery, and four years for money laundering.
Miss Bouchard never flinched.
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Bouchard was found guilty on 25 of the 26 charges she faced. She had been charged with 15 counts of theft totaling more than $2 million from James Bruce Handford between May 2010 and October 2012.
She was also charged with one count of forgery, one of obtaining property by deception, three counts of transferring criminal property and six counts of attempting to transfer criminal property.
The one count she was not found guilty of was a theft charge relating to payment of credit card debts.
“From the time of your arrest in October 2012 you set about stripping out his accounts on an eye-watering scale,” the judge told the Canadian woman as he delivered his sentencing ruling.
“In my judgement you are a manipulative and dishonest woman, driven by greed. When you had stolen a substantial part of his money, you boasted in your journal that now at last you were a millionaire.”
The judge said the aggravating features in case were that the victim, Australian James Bruce Handford (87), was a vulnerable man who was hard-working and a highly successful entrepreneur. But when she met him, he was a man beset with memory problems, sometimes confused and suffering the onset of dementia, so that he did not check his bank account statements and Bouchard’s spending.
The judge said she carried on a double life of apparent care on the one hand and deceit and dishonesty on the other. She lied to the family and the bank and even forged his credit card authorisation document.
Justice Worsley told her, “You led an extravagant and enviable life-style. Cosmetic surgery, liposuction, safaris and cruises.”
“The day had come when the gravy train was about to come to an end. You carried on with a double life. Caring on one hand, deceitful and dishonest on the other. You lied to his family and you lied to bank officials.”
“I accept the relationship began legitimately, but turned when you realised how wealthy and vulnerable he was.”
In the final days she transferred around $1 million and attempted to transfer more out of the jurisdiction, and when the police came for her she was about to flee with all of her possessions packed and the removal men waiting.
The judge added that he had seen no evidence of remorse whatsoever.
In court, the judge told her that he was thankful the man she stole from was suffering from dementia. That way, said the Judge, he will never understand how she repaid his trust and affection.
The judge also told the court that as much money as is available to restore the funds which she stole from Handford would be seized as she should not benefit in any way from her dishonest use of his money. The crown told the court that it intended to make an application to confiscate her assets to retrieve the stolen money at a later date.
Bouchard currently has a local account with CI$596,569, another account with US$550,449, an account in Canada with CAD$51,081, a condo at Ocean Club partially paid for with cash from Handford, as well as money and jewellery worth hundreds of thousands in a safety deposit box.
However, prosecutors said much of the money that was stolen and transferred to Canada cannot be retrieved because there are no treaties between the Cayman Islands and Canada that will allow the money to be confiscated. Simon Russell Flint QC, who led the prosecution on behalf of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, said there was another account in Canada which they believe had around CAD$1.4 million, but the money is thought to have been withdrawn by Bouchard’s father.
The judge adjourned all of the financial applications for a period of three months to enable the prosecution to decide whether they wished to pursue a submission that Bouchard was pursuing a criminal lifestyle, to determine the total value of the restrained assets, to indicate what figures they wanted to ask the court to consider by way of confiscation, compensation and restitution.
Bouchard remained impassive throughout the sentencing hearing before she was remanded in custody and led away by prison offices to begin serving her term.
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