Thief who stole from dead friend lived with the body for three weeks
DRUG addict Gareth Kemp emptied his dead friend’s bank account — and left his body lying on a sofa at home for weeks.
Heroin and cocaine addict Kemp, aged 40, had a £150-a-day drug habit and stole £4,500 cash from 72-year-old Thomas Hulme’s bank account — both before and after he died.
Sentencing Kemp to two years in prison at Bolton Crown Court yesterday, Judge Timothy Stead said: “This theft breached a high degree of trust. But it was aggravated by a level of immorality that must shock most people.
“You took money from Mr Hulme some time before his death but you did nothing about the death and carried on taking his money. The shocking want of immorality cannot be overlooked.”
Police found Mr Hulme dead at his home in Westcourt Road, Daubhil, on April 18. The death was not suspicious.
The following day Kemp, of Woodfield Street, Great Lever, appeared at Bolton Magistrates’ Court, charged with an unrelated matter.
While he was in the dock, Kemp threw the bank card to his girlfriend in the public gallery.
The bank card was seized and it was discovered it belonged to Mr Hulme. The matter was then reported to police.
Officers believe Kemp, who was living at Mr Hulme’s home, used the bank card for three weeks before and three weeks after Mr Hulme’s death.
Kemp had been invited to stay at Mr Hulme’s house and had helped the pensioner with shopping errands.
He used Mr Hulme’s bank card with his permission but took far more money than was needed for everyday shopping.
Kemp would regularly withdraw £100.
He pleaded guilty to dishonest representation for bank or insurance fraud at Bolton Magistrates’ Court on August 2.
Yesterday he was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court.
Lindsay Thomas, prosecuting, said Kemp used Mr Hulme’s TSB card many times between March 19 and April 15 to withdraw cash across Bolton including Asda supermarket in St Helens Road.
He unsuccessfully tried to take more money, which would have led to a higher final sum of £5,800.
Judge Stead said: “You continued taking money after the death, which was stealing from the deceased’s estate. These features take this offending far away from banking and insurance fraud. You also have more than 40 previous convictions for theft and shoplifting.”
Defence solicitor Tom McKail said Kemp was “utterly disgusted” with what he had done.
He added: “Mr Kemp made the brutal admission during interview. He said he had betrayed Mr Hulme and carried on until the bank account was emptied. He is ashamed of himself and has let everybody down. He makes no excuses.
“He has struggled deeply with heroin and crack-cocaine addiction for 25 years. His father died when he was young and he has been taking drugs ever since. He spent £100 to £150 a day on drugs. It has destroyed his life.
“It’s refreshing that he accepts he deserves what he gets from the court. He has sought some counselling and is on methadone to treat his addiction.”
Police viewed CCTV of Kemp near to cash machines at the time withdrawals were made.
When he was arrested and interviewed he admitted withdrawing all the money from the account to pay for drugs.
Det Con Andy Devine, said: "Draining an elderly man's life savings after he has died is in my eyes tantamount to grave robbing.
"The victim put a roof over Kemp's head and got nothing in return other than betrayal.
"Over just a few weeks Kemp blew a significant amount of money to feed a habit and his ghoulish actions reflect the kind of appalling lengths some people will go to when dependent on drugs.
"Drug addiction blights many lives and, as this case shows, can impact on the lives of the most innocent of residents.
"Hopefully a stint in prison will help cure him of this terrible affliction and help him to see the error of his ways."