Magistrate spent sick mum’s cash

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A MILTON Keynes magistrate has been taken to court by her own brother and sister for spending thousands of pounds from her dying mother’s bank account.

Julia Hawes has been ordered to pay back £18,000, some of which she spent on Formula One tickets, dental bills, presents and driving lessons for her children.

She was also found to have been the ‘driving force’ behind her frail mother signing a new will to cut out her only son, Patrick Burgess.

Businessman Mr Burgess, along with his other sister Libby, brought the legal challenge at Central London County Court this week.

The court heard the mother, Daphne Burgess, who died in 2009, was “much-loved” and cared for in turn by all three children.

She suffered a significant loss of mental capacity from 2006 after a series of mini strokes and the onset of dementia.

Mrs Hawes, who in her role as JP helps decide the fate of offenders appearing in Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court, spent the cash from her mother’s account during this period, the court heard.

There was a series of cheques totalling £6,752 made out to Mrs Hawes and her daughters at a time when Mrs Burgess was “fading fast”, the court heard.

The final one, days before Mrs Burgess’ death, was to pay off a credit card. The account also paid out £9,000 to Mrs Hawes’ husband Christopher and their two daughters during a time when the court ruled Mrs Burgess “did not have the capacity to make the decision herself to divest herself of such a sizeable amount of money”.

The court overturned a will made in January 2007, when the JP accompanied her mother to a solicitor’s office.

The judge said: “It was at a time when she (Mrs Hawes) had fallen out with her brother; she was angry with him and she felt he was sufficiently wealthy not to need, or maybe even deserve, part of his mother’s inheritance.”

He said Mrs Burgess would have been distressed to hear about the dispute between the siblings.

Mrs Hawes’ suitability to continue as a magistrate must now be assessed by the Lord Chancellor.

Meanwhile her brother Mr Burgess said: “For me, as for my sister Libby, this was never about money. I simply could not let the assertion stand that my mother, to whom I was very close, would cut me out of her will.”