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Ex-soldier’s shame as he defrauds own mum

A devious ex-soldier forged cheques in his elderly mother’s name and blew her savings on clothes, cigarettes and DVDs – leaving her with just £5. Mark Keating, 46, defrauded 76-year-old Barbara Keating of more than £3,200, using her bank details 54 times and forging her signature on 11 cheques. She only discovered the missing cash when she checked her bank account two days before Christmas last year and found it contained only £5. Jobless Keating, of Peatree Road, Broomfield, Herne Bay, admitted two fraud charges between March and December last year. His lawyer told Canterbury Crown Court how he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the judge heard that he had only spent a “short period of time” in the regular army when he was a teenager and 12 years in the Territorial Army. Judge James O’Mahony asked:

“I am sure he did sterling service in the army but he is not someone who has fought in a war or who has seen battle conditions?”

Defence lawyer Phil Rowley replied:

“Indeed not. The PTSD is not solely due to his time in the army.”

Prosecutor Anthony Prosser said that despite the fraud Keating was still living with his mother.

“Police have now spoken to her and she says that she is happy for him to stay until the conclusion of the court case, when she will ask him to leave.”

Mr Rowley said that Keating had been paying his mother £70 a fortnight out of his benefits – £20 for food and £50 repayment as compensation. The prosecutor said Mrs Keating had gone to the police station in Herne Bay to say money had gone missing from her account on December 23, 2013. After a bank investigation, it was discovered that Keating had forged his mother’s signature on 11 cheques, defrauding her of £1 , which he then spent on clothes and cigarettes. He had then used her bank details on 54 occasions, buying himself another £1,251 worth of items, including mobile phones, DVDs, tools and Internet broadband. He told police he was suffering from PTSD and he used to work in the army, adding that he accepted that was no defence. Mr Rowley said:

“He has expressed to police his remorse and his shame for his behaviour towards his mother.”

The judge retorted:

“If you aren’t ashamed when you do this to your mother, when would you be ashamed?”

Mr Rowley added that in two weeks he is moving to a property in Ramsgate run by the organisation Future For Heroes, where he hoped to get work as a mechanic. Keating, who admitted two charges of fraud, was given a nine month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work for the community. He was also ordered to repay his mother and £450 in court costs. The judge told him:

“You stole from your mother in the most devious and dishonest way over a period of time. You had time to ask yourself ‘what am I doing?’. If you are not absolutely stricken by shame by what you did then no-one would ever be ashamed of anything. This was an outrageous offence against your own mother.”

Mrs Keating told the Gazette after the case:

“What’s this week’s news is next week’s fish and chips paper.”

Herne Bay Gazette, April 10th 2014

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