A FORMER Nationwide IT consultant splurged thousands from his sick father’s estate on hotels, a Smart car, a motorbike and tea at the Savoy Hotel.

Philip Cheese, 57, who used to live in Bedwyn, near Marlborough, was given power of attorney over the affairs of his 87-year-old father in 2015 as the man’s dementia worsened. After his mum’s death, Cheese found a care home in nearby Froxfield.

Swindon Crown Court heard Cheese had suffered a mental breakdown in 2018 together with difficulties in his relationship with his wife, to whom he had been married for 27 years.

From July to the end of October he took advantage of his position to dip into his father’s finances, withdrawing almost £12,500.

He took out £5,300 on September 19 to spend on a Smart car and motorbike. He paid £27 for tea at the Savoy Hotel in London, while also using his father’s card to buy insurance and pay for food. At the end of 2018 he had gone travelling in Asia.

Prosecutor Tessa Hingston said concerns were raised by his brother, who noticed the balance in his father’s account was low, and the care home after Cheese asked an administrator what would happen to his dad if he couldn’t pay the fees.

Interviewed by police, Cheese denied using his dad’s money for himself. “It became apparent that he was in a difficult financial situation, with a £5,000 overdraft.”

Cheese, of Bolingbroke Road, Moredon, pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud.

Defending, Chris Smyth said his client was remorseful. Mr Cheese snr had substantial funds after the sale of his bungalow and, as a result, there had never been any danger of him losing his place at the care home.

The barrister said of his client: “Everyone seems to agree, brother included, he had a significant breakdown and this is why this out of character, late in life offending occurred when his judgement was impaired. I hope your honour can sense just how sorry and regretful he is about it.”

Cheese had a strong bond with his father and still makes regular visits. After his breakdown, while still living in the marital home in Bedwyn, he would walk seven miles to the care home.

He was now in a relationship with a new partner. He had substantial means with which to pay compensation and was awaiting the sale of the £500,000 home he had shared with his ex-wife.

Judge Peter Crabtree said: “There’s a strong argument that only immediate custody is appropriate for an offence committed by someone who has an enduring power of attorney, particularly when that relates to a vulnerable relative or father.”

But he acknowledged Cheese was remorseful and deemed by a probation officer to be a low risk of committing further crimes.

He sentenced Cheese to seven months imprisonment suspended for a year. He must do 100 hours of unpaid work, up to 15 rehabilitation activity days and pay £12,435 in compensation to his dad within eight months.