Washington mother spent £455,000 from her fallen soldier son’s will that was intended for someone else

A Washington mother has been jailed after she squandered £455,000 from her fallen soldier’s sons will which was meant to be kept as a trust fund for an unnamed victim

Kathryn Walker, 56, was the mother of Richard Walker, who served as a Sapper in the British Army. In 2013, Richard was killed by an insider Afghan attack.

Being a soldier, he has pre-prepared a will and had asked his mam to be entrusted with the large fortune which would be dedicated to someone else.

But instead of looking after the money or investing it wisely, she spent and lost all of it.

A court heard the items she used the money on included vehicles, caravans, horses, private number plates and paying off her own debts. The fraud came to light after a relative of the intended beneficiary heard gossip that Walker had become “minted” following the death of her son.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the sum left by Sapper Walker, after deductions, amounted to £455,774. A cheque for that amount was paid to Walker in 2014. When the intended beneficiary’s representative didn’t get statements about the money, she became concerned and tried to make inquiries through Walker’s solicitors but was told they couldn’t help her.

Nick Lane, prosecuting, said: “Several years later she bumped into someone who passed on information that Kathryn Walker was supposed to be ‘minted’ since her son’s death. She had recently bought horses and stables.

“This concerned (the woman) because she understood from Mr Walker that his mum was not good with money. She had survived on benefits and had borrowed money from her son.”

The woman instructed solicitors to investigate the money and letters were sent to Walker, 56, asking her to provide information but no response was received. She also failed to respond to an order from Newcastle probate registry requiring she provide an inventory of the estate.

After enforcement action was started in 2020, Walker contacted the woman’s solicitors by phone, saying she had invested the funds in a caravan park but the business failed and she lost it.

Police were informed and checks showed that within four months of getting the money she had dispersed the funds. She put £137,000 into another account she had and spent £237,000 buying caravans in Whitley Bay. She also took out more than £30,000 in cash.

She had also bought private number plates, vehicles, spent £10,000 on supermarkets and £800 on Sunderland Football Club. She then sold the seven caravans she had bought at a loss of £161,000.

When she was interviewed, Walker denied squandering the money. She said she had spent £18,000 on a memorial garden at her home and had cleared personal debts and rent arrears. She had also paid for a friend’s child to receive medical treatment abroad.

Mr Lane said: “She accepted she knew the money was not hers to spend. She said she was sorry for her actions.”

The intended beneficiary’s representative said in a victim impact statement: “She has totally breached her position of trust by using this money for her own benefit.

“To find answers I hired a private investigator and I also had to pay £6,000 in solicitors fees.”

Walker, of Horsley Road, Barmston, Washington, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of trust and was jailed for three years and four months. Judge Julie Clemitson told her: “At the age of 56 years old without having been in court before, it’s a tragedy you appear here today in respect of such a serious offence.

“Some of it was spent in an altruistic fashion – you paid for medical treatment for a friend’s child. Some of it was spent on pure extravagance including a private number plate and horse box.

“You had spent the entirety of the inheritance and there’s now absolutely nothing left. This was a fraud which took place over a sustained period of time and it was a gross breach of trust. It is the loss of a life-changing sum of money.”

Lorraine Mustard, defending, said: “She is of previous good character. This is not a lady who’s without her own difficulties. She lost her son in all of this.

“There has been bereavement after bereavement. She saw it in some sense as blood money after the pain of losing her son. She tried to anaesthetise that pain by spending the money she had no right to spend.”