Carer pleads guilty to theft of thousands of dollars from dying man

By Alice Cowdrey

Terrence Cooksley was ordered to pay $5000 in reparation. Photo/Stratford Press
Terrence Cooksley was ordered to pay $5000 in reparation. Photo/Stratford Press

A ''cold and manipulative'' carer who stole from a vulnerable Stratford man has been ordered to pay reparation.

Terrence Alvyn Cooksley, 68, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by a person in a special relationship and was ordered to pay $5000 reparation, a $2000 fine and $130 in court costs when he appeared in the Hawera District Court today.

The charge was in relation to the theft of cash and assets from Stratford man Trevor McAnnalley who died in July 2016.

McAnnalley's daughter Dianna Marsh and her husband Eric Marsh were present in court and Eric Marsh was given the opportunity to read out a victim impact statement on behalf of the family.

Visibly upset and angry, Marsh said Cooksley had caused hurt and distress to the family.

''This has broken our family ... this will now be hurt carried for a lifetime, with only one form of peace left to us - to have unscrupulous, cold, manipulative people bought to task - to have this unconscionable act of betrayal bough to light and justice to be served.''

Marsh said Cooksley was his father-in-law's friend but also his carer. The relationship soon became a concern when McAnnalley's relationship with his family started to become distant.

They soon found out Cooksley had become power of attorney upon Cooksley's instructions which meant they received no information about McAnnalley and they were unable to speak to him.

Marsh said the family were not informed about McAnnalley's ongoing health problems.

''Time went on and visits to dad were becoming very few. Next we knew Terry had put dad into a resthome.''

Marsh said that a month before McAnnalley died, Cooksley told him he was holding a considerable amount of cash for him that was ''well in excess'' of $10,000.

Marsh said the family were not informed until after the day after McAnnalley died because they were not noted as the next of kin at the rest home.

It was the funeral director who rang them to tell them about his death.

''Upon talking to the rest home, dad had been deteriorating for over three months of organ failure and pneumonia. The reason for not informing us was we were not next of kin.''

Dianna and Eric Marsh with their son Samuel. Photo/Stratford Press
Dianna and Eric Marsh with their son Samuel. Photo/Stratford Press

Marsh said after his father-in-law died it was found that his antiques, diamond jewellery, stamp collection, war memorabilia and other collectibles had been taken.

''Tens of thousands worth of dad's life long collections gone.''

''One the financial side this has been nothing short of devastating. The estate has been bled dry and everything of value picked through and taken.

''The most disturbing thing of all of this is the theft of Dianna's ability to say goodbye to her dad. The ability to make peace, to hug to say thank you to say goodbye - all taken because of lies and deceit.''

Judge Chris Sygrove said community work at Cooksley's age was not acceptable and ordered him to pay $5000 reparation by 5pm as well as a $2000 fine.

He said he hoped the victim impact statement would ring true for Cooksley.

''Because it is true and heartfelt and your behaviour is a disgrace.''

Outside court, Eric and Dianna Marsh said they were upset that the amount of reparation was low but glad that he had been held accountable for his actions.

''As long as it doesn't happen to somebody else that's all that matters - that he has been stopped,'' Marsh said.

- Stratford Press

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