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Clergyman acted in friend's best interests court told
3:54pm Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
A KIDDERMINSTER clergyman told police he had taken control of his vulnerable friend's affairs to save him in a family dispute, a court has been told.
Rev Peter Hesketh said in an interview that the other members of Peter Court's family "hated his guts" after the dispute arose over the terms of a will. He heard them say "the vicar has taken £300,000 off us" but in his eyes he had he had stepped in for his friend's best interests.
Hesketh, of The Presbytery, Shrewsbury Road, Kidderminster, denies a charge of theft. The prosecution at Worcester Crown Court alleges he stole £61, 429 from Mr Court between January 17, 2006, when he was granted power of attorney over Mr Court's financial affairs, and May 26, 2007, when Mr Court died after spending his final few months in a care home.
The prosecution claims that Hesketh took money from Mr Court's accounts that could not have been used for his benefit, particularly once he was in the nursing home.
Det Con Philippa Metcalfe, the officer in charge of the case, told the jury a complaint had been made at the end of 2007 about the way money was used from Mr Court's various accounts. Hesketh, a Deacon licensed to carry out baptisms, funerals and burials, was arrested in June, 2008.
Det Con Metcalfe told the court a vast amount of documents were seized from his home, among them a number relating to dealings with betting companies including Equinex, Ladbrokes, Bet365 and BetFair. When asked if he gambled, Hesketh said he had never spent a penny on betting.
Questioned by Paul Mytton, prosecuting, Det Con Metcalfe said Hesketh had told the police Mr Court ran the Woodland pub in Bewdley for 30 years and he had become friendly with him after drinking there.
He had proposed to Mr Court that they should develop the caravan site at the pub into a new development of Swedish log cabins and they would be partners.
But when Mr Court's mother died in June, 2004, it was revealed that he did not own the pub outright and the will only made provision for him to stay there for a further 12 months. Mr Court had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Hesketh tackled the business of the estate on his behalf with the other family members to keep him in his home.
Hesketh, who left his job as a sales manager with a company in West Bromwich in 2006, told police he had a verbal agreement with Mr Court to be paid £20,000 a year for his work on running his affairs.
After the pub was sold, he bought a house in Richmond Road, Kidderminster, for Mr Court for £150,000 and he and his wife looked after him there until he went into the care home.
The trial continues.