A GREEDY son claimed he was so devastated by his dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis that he stole £16,000 of his payout and spent it on drink and drugs.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Thomas Clark’s father was diagnosed with asbestosis and received around £40,000 in compensation.

But 27-year-old Clark stole large chunk of it.

“On anybody’s view that is a despicable offence,” Recorder Neville Biddle told him.

Brian Williams, prosecuting, told the court: “The circumstances are sad. The defendant’s father was ill with cancer caused by asbestosis and received a substantial payment in compensation, a little over £40,000.

“That was paid into a joint account, together with his wife.”

But in July last year when Clark’s mother, Lynn, looked at bank statements she realised some of the money was missing.

“There were substantial withdrawals over a four month period,” said Mr Williams.

“She knew she hadn’t taken it out and her husband was unfit to take it out.

“She immediately suspected her son. She was aware he had been taking drugs and drinking.”

But when Clark’s mum confronted him he claimed his father had told him to take some of the money and “treat himself”.

Police became involved and Clark admitted he had taken around £15,000.

“He said his father had given him the card legitimately at first to treat himself — there is no way of confirming whether that is so or not,” said Mr Williams.

“He did accept he had taken a very substantial sum — way in excess of what he might have legitimately been allowed to take.

“He said that it had been spent on drugs because he was finding it difficult to cope with his father’s illness.”

Clark, aged 27, of Washacre, Westhoughton, has no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to theft over a four month period starting in May last year.

Joe Rawlings, defending, stressed that Clark, a painter and decorator, is remorseful, not a danger to the public and could be successfully rehabilitated.

“It is clear he was extremely close to his father,” said Mr Rawlings, who said that Mr Clark would refer to his son as “his little angel”.

“They spent a lot of time together and Mr Clark did a lot for his father.”

But Mr Rawlings said that in Summer 2018 Clark’s father was diagnosed with cancer.

“”He was told it was terminal and Mr Clark struggled greatly with that situation,” said Mr Rawlings.

“He turned to drink and drugs and his decline, mentally at least has been of equal significance.”

Sentencing Clark to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, Recorder Neville Biddle told him: “The circumstances of your offence are unusual and rather sad.

“Your father became very ill and you found it extremely hard to cope with. The court can understand that and you cannot be criticised for it.

“However you started taking drugs and drugs habits are expensive.”

He added that Clark paid for it by using the money his father had received in compensation for industrial disease.

“It was money there for him [your father] and, in due course, for his wife, your mother,” said Recorder Biddle.

As part of his sentence Clark was ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and participate in 10 days of rehabilitation activities.

A restraining order was also made banning him from contacting his mother for five years.